Kazakh journalists sentenced to years in prison on tax fraud charges

By bne IntelliNews October 12, 2016

Kazakh prosecutors have sentenced the head of the National Press Club of Kazakhstan and his son to several years in prison on embezzlement and tax evasion charges, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said on October 10.

Human rights defenders have described the arrest as politically motivated, suggesting the authorities were trying to send a message to journalists since the arrest was made one month before the parliamentary elections in March 2016. “Their charges have been dismissed a reprisal measure by the authorities because of the journalists’ independent reporting,” the IFJ said in a statement.

Seytkazy Matayev, who owns local news agency KazTAG, and his son Aset, were arrested in February. Prosecutors accused the Matayevs, both of whom denied any wrongdoing, of embezzling about $1mn in funds transferred to them by a government agency and state-controlled KazakhTelecom under a contract to write promotional stories about national policies.

Seitkazy was sentenced to six years of prison, while Aset was sentenced to five years. The authorities have also asked to seize the journalists’ property, including the National Press Club, and banned Aset Matayev from conducting any business activity for three years.

Prior to the October 3 court ruling, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on authorities to drop all charges against the two journalists. “The Kazakh government is only shaming itself with this prosecution and detention of a father-son team of independent journalists,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said in a statement. “The Matayevs' outlets provide a much-needed platform for alternative news and information in Kazakhstan.”

Kazakh media is deemed “not free” by the Washington-based human rights and media watchdog Freedom House. Kazakhstan was ranked 181th out of 199 countries worldwide on Freedom House press freedom ranking for 2016.

 

Related Articles

Kazakh central bank approves €1bn assistance package for four banks

Kazakhstan’s central bank announced on October 18 that it has approved an assistance package worth KZT410bn (€1.04bn) for ATF Bank, Eurasian Bank, Tsesna Bank and Bank ... more

Turkey-based Eurasian development bank ETDB signs memo to boost return to Iran

The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and the Turkey-based ECO Trade and Development Bank (ETDB) have signed a memorandum on strengthening bilateral ties, the CBI said on October 10. ETDB is a Eurasian ... more

Air Astana claims Kazakh air traffic may halt due to aviation fuel suspension

Air Astana said on September 25 that regular air traffic might come to a halt in Kazakhstan due to falling aviation kerosene supplies from Russia as well as the upcoming ... more

Dismiss