Press rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has criticized the three-year jail term
handed down to a Kazakh newspaper editor for divulging classified documents.
Kazakhstan, a Central Asian state that will next year chair Europe's main security and human rights body, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has long been criticized in the West for cracking down on independent media.
Ramazan Esergepov, the owner and editor of "Alma Ata Info" newspaper, was arrested in January after publishing a letter he said revealed the links between a businessman and the National Security Committee (KNB). He was sentenced in August.
"This outrageous sentence ends a prosecution that was marred by irregularities from the outset," RSF said in a statement on August 11. It urged a higher court to overturn Yesergepov's conviction "on the grounds that it violates free expression and democracy."
Ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, which had pledged to liberalize its laws before taking on the OSCE role, has said this year it would not fully implement legal reforms recommended by the OSCE.
Officials cited "country specifics," code for Kazakhstan's 70 years as part of the Soviet Union and lack of democratic traditions.