Kyrgyzstan: Court Finds Against Newspaper, Activist, Orders Them to Pay $260,000
In a blow against press freedom in Kyrgyzstan, a court has found in favor of the prosecutor’s office in a libel suit against a newspaper and a prominent rights activist.
The court in Bishkek on June 30 ruled to find Zanoza.kg news website guilty on two counts of besmirching the honor of President Almazbek Atambayev, to whom they must now pay 15 million som (around $215,000).
In the same ruling, the court found that Cholpon Dzhakupova had smeared Atambayev by stating, during a roundtable, that the president was a “personality with maniacal inclinations” who should “read the constitution.” Dzhakupova was ordered to pay 3 million som ($43,000) in damages.
Dzhakupova’s comments were carried by Zanoza.kg. The website admitted that it had slightly misquoted Dzhakupova, although the activist said she had no recriminations and that the publication had conveyed the basic gist of her remarks accurately.
The co-founder of Zanoza.kg. Naryn Aiyp, who also penned the offending piece, said the verdict against them constituted “hounding of the media.”
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