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Kazakh Journalist Taken From Hospital By Armed, Masked Officers

Ramazan Esergepov
Ramazan Esergepov
The wife of an independent Kazakh journalist says her husband was taken away from his hospital room today by a group of state security officers.

Raushan Esergepova told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that her husband, Ramazan Esergepov, editor in chief of the independent Almaty weekly "Alma-Ata Info," was detained by masked officers with machine guns.

Esergepov has been treated for heart problems since early December, after Kazakh National Security Committee (KNB) officers tried to force him to go to the southern city of Taraz for questioning regarding a November article concerning corruption allegations that officials say revealed state secrets.

The KNB officially confirmed Esergepov's arrest and said he is now in Taraz, where they say his status in the case has been changed from witness to suspect.

Before his hospitalization, Esergepov had sought asylum at a U.S. Embassy representative office in Almaty. He agreed to leave the U.S. Embassy office after Kazakh authorities assured him and U.S. officials that he would be treated in accordance with Kazakh law.

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