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Former Kazakh Weekly's Founder Free After Three-Year Jail Sentence

Supporters Greet Esergepov As He Leaves Prison
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A contingent of family and supporters greeted Ramazan Yesergepov, chief editor of the now-defunct independent Kazakh newspaper "Alma-Ata Info," when he emerged from prison on January 6 after serving a three-year jail term for allegedly disclosing state se

A journalist whose independent newspaper was shuttered after his arrest and conviction for revealing state secrets in an article alleging links between a businessman and the country's national security apparatus has left jail after serving a three-year sentence that he and rights groups say was politically motivated, according to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service.

Ramazan Esergepov, who founded and edited the weekly newspaper "Alma-Ata Info," was ordered to spend three years in jail in August 2009 over the article in question, called "Who Rules the Country: the President or the Kazakh National Security Committee?"

His conviction met with protests and condemnation from Freedom House and other local and international rights groups.

Supporters had gathered outside the prison in anticipation of his January 6 release and used the event to publicize the names of other jailed Kazakh journalists.

Esergepov has insisted all along that his conviction was politically motivated and vowed to campaign hard for human rights after his release.

Esergepov received Human Rights Watch's 2011 Hellman-Hammett Grant, which is awarded to writers and journalists who have been the victims of political persecution and are in financial need.

In 2009, Freedom House described Esergepov as "the latest target of an escalating government crackdown on independent media in Kazakhstan."

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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