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Kazakh Journalist Handed 34-Month Jail Term On Libel Charge

Kazakh journalist Amangeldy Batyrbekov (file photo)

SARYAGHASH, Kazakhstan -- A court in Kazakhstan's southern town of Saryaghash has sentenced journalist Amangeldy Batyrbekov to two years and 10 months on libel charges.

The court on September 23 found Batyrbekov guilty of insulting the dignity and honor of a local education official, Bakhtiyar Abdiev, in a Facebook post entitled "Idiocy in Keles" and sentenced him the same day.

Batyrbekov's wife, Gulzada Baimuratova, told RFE/RL that the ruling will be appealed.

In 2017, Batyrbekov was sentenced to 18 months of freedom limitation -- a suspended sentence with parole-like restrictions, for insulting a deputy prosecutor in the Saryaghash district in a newspaper article.

The Almaty-based Adil Soz (A Just Word) human rights group called Batyrbekov a prisoner of conscience.

According to Adil Soz, at least nine journalists in Kazakhstan have faced criminal persecution on libel charges in the first four months of 2019.

International human rights organization have called on Kazakhstan to revoke an article in the Criminal Code that sets out criminal prosecution for libel.

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