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Kazakh Independent Weekly's Trial Opens

Chief editor Ramazan Esergepov has been in jail since last year on other charges.
ALMATY -- An Almaty city court is set to begin hearing a case against the independent weekly "Alma-Ata Info," RFE/RL's Kazakh service reports.

The newspaper's editorial board and journalist Askhat Bimenbetov are being sued by a local businessman for allegedly damaging his reputation in an article printed in the weekly in September.

The businessman is demanding the equivalent of $667,000 as compensation.

Meanwhile, the newspaper has been facing other problems.

Its owner and chief editor, Ramazan Esergepov, has been in detention since January for allegedly unveiling state secrets in an article printed in the newspaper in November.

Rights activists and media watchdogs in Kazakhstan told RFE/RL that the charges are politically motivated.