BISHKEK -- The United States has joined media-freedom watchdogs in calling on Kyrgyz authorities to conduct a swift and thorough investigation into this week’s assault of the editor in chief of an investigative website that has covered allegations of corruption.
The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek condemned the January 9 attack against Bolot Temirov of the website FactCheck, saying: "Press can only be free when journalists are able to work without intimidation and threats," it said in a statement.
The previous day, unidentified assailants beat Temirov while he was on his way to work in the capital, Bishkek, before stealing his mobile phone, his colleagues said.
In a Facebook post, Temirov labelled the incident "an attempt to frighten" him.
The journalist lost a tooth in the attack and suffered bruises to his face, one of his colleagues told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s office denounced the attack and called for a prompt investigation.
OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir also condemned the attack and insisted that “no intimidation of journalists should be tolerated.”
Meanwhile, the New York-based CPJ urged Kyrgyz authorities to determine whether the assault was related to Temirov’s work and to “ensure that reporters can cover corruption allegations without fearing for their safety.”
Last month, FactCheck and several other news websites were hacked after they published reports on alleged corruption and the lavish lifestyles of a former custom official’s family members.