Kazakhstan: campaigners call for end to persecution of jailed journalist
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) backed international calls on the Kazakh authorities to stop the persecution of journalist Zhanbolat Mamay.
Mamay, editor-in-chief of Kazakh opposition newspaper Tribuna – Sayasi kalam, was arrested on 10 February and accused of laundering money allegedly embezzled by opposition leader Mukhtar Ablayazov. He now faces a major fine or being jailed for up to seven years.
Mamay was detained on 11 February and is awaiting trial. During all this time the journalist, known for his opposition to proposed land reforms, has categorically denied his guilt and claimed the accusations against him are “politically motivated”. His first hearing was monitored by IFJ board member Tim Shafir, from the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ), who met his wife and family and the newspaper’s staff who had come to support Mamay.
In an open letter sent on 24 March to the office of President Nazarbayev, the media group claimed that during his detention Mamay has been beaten and lost consciousness. The facts were confirmed by a medical officer and a special prosecutor for the supervision of the detention centres, who reported that the editor had visible grazes ad bruises that the administration of the facility didn’t properly record during their visit to the prison on 21 February.
In addition, the reporter’s spouse has received a series of phone calls threatening Mamay with murder and demanding that he stops engaging in politics.
The IFJ has backed international calls for the Kazak authorities to take immediate action to investigate Mamay’s beating in the detention center as well as to bring to justice all those responsible; to investigate the threats received by his wife and to guarantee the future personal safety of Mamay and his family.
Campaigners have also demanded an end to the persecution of the journalist and a fair trial by impartial authorities at all stages of the criminal proceeding against him.