BISHKEK -- Colleagues of a Kyrgyz lawmaker who was detained in Kazakhstan on suspicion of smuggling contend that he is innocent.
Parliament members from the party called Kyrgyzstan said on February 19 that the detainment of lawmaker Damirbek Asylbek-Uulu in the neighboring country came as "a surprise."
Asylbek-Uulu "has nothing to do with the charges he is facing," they said in a statement.
"The Kyrgyzstan party's faction in the parliament has been in close cooperation with the Foreign Ministry and law enforcement officials," the statement said. "We believe that the issue will be investigated by Kazakh officials properly and in accordance with the law, without violating Kyrgyz citizens' rights."
Kazakh and Kyrgyz media reports said that on February 15-16, Kazakh law enforcement authorities detained 29 people during an antismuggling operation.
The reports said that four of the detained suspects were Kyrgyz citizens, including Asylbek-Uulu.