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Imprisoned Chief Of Kazakh News Agency To Be Transferred To Less Strict Facility


Kazakh journalist Aset Mataev in an Almaty court in March 2016.

TALDYQORGHAN, Kazakhstan -- The chief of the KazTAG news agency in Kazakhstan, Aset Mataev, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 on a tax-evasion conviction he disputes, will be transferred to a lower-security facility.

A court in the southeastern city of Taldyqorghan ruled on April 24 that Mataev, 33, will be transferred from a prison to a penitentiary in his native Almaty in which convicts live close to an industrial facility or a farm where they work.

Mataev's father, Seitqazy Mataev, 63, was tried with his son and sentenced to six years in prison on tax evasion and embezzlement charges. He was released in December, after his sentence was reduced under a 2016 mass amnesty marking the 25th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence.

Seitqazy and Aset Mataev were arrested in February 2016. They were sentenced in October that year after a court convicted both men of tax evasion and found the older man guilty of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Kazakhstan's Communications Ministry.

Both have denied the charges. Rights groups say Seitqazy Mataev was prosecuted on trumped-up charges in response to his work as head of the Union of Kazakhstan's Journalists.

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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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