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Kazakh Online News Site's Chief Editor Accused Of Libel


Marat Asipov (file photo)

The chief editor of the Kazakh online news site Ratel.kz says he has been officially named a suspect in a high-profile libel case.

Marat Asipov told reporters late on April 4 he had been interrogated by investigators for eight hours in Kazakhstan’s commercial capital, Almaty.

Asipov also wrote on social media that Ratel.kz's Facebook account had been closed.

A court in late March issued an order to block the Ratel.kz website.

And on April 2, Almaty police raided the editorial offices of Ratel.kz and the local edition of Forbes magazine.

Interior Minister Qalmukhanbet Qasymov later said the raids were conducted after police received a complaint from a person, identified as "citizen Kakimzhanov," accusing the two media outlets of spreading libelous information about him.

Local media reports said that the lawsuit had been filed by former Finance Minister Zeinulla Kakimzhanov over articles by both outlets that investigated corruption allegedly involving Kakimzhanov and his son.

It wasn’t immediately clear what information or stories may have prompted the lawsuit.

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    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

    RFE/RL's Radio Azattyq has been an important source of information for people in Kazakhstan for decades. In 2009, Azattyq won the prestigious 2009 Online Journalism Award for "standing in defense of citizen’s rights to seek and receive information."

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