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Lawyers Cite Difficulties In Defending Kazakh Journalist

Ramazan Esergepov
Ramazan Esergepov
A court in the Kazakh city of Taraz is scheduled to start hearings into the case against an independent Kazakh journalist on April 23, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Ramazan Esergepov, editor in chief and owner of the weekly "Alma-Ata Info," is accused of revealing state secrets in an article printed in his newspaper in November.

His wife, Raushan, told RFE/RL that her husband's lawyers have been unable to obtain rights to access restricted state documents in order to be able to defend him in the courtroom.

Prominent Kazakh lawyer Mustakhim Tuleev, who intends to defend Esergepov, says that officials in Taraz have refused to provide him with access to the documents, saying that Tuleev is not a member of the Lawyers' Association in Taraz.

Esergepov has been held in the city's detention center since early January.

Local authorities say that since the article in question was about companies in Taraz, he must be tried in that city.

Rights activists and media watchdogs in Kazakhstan say the charges are politically motivated.