09ASTANA58, KAZAKHSTAN: ALMA-ATA INFO EDITOR CHARGED WITH

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA58 2009-01-12 10:41 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO4611
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW
RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHPW RUEHROV
RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0058/01 0121041
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 121041Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4327
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1024
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0423
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1129
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0597
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0512
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000058 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  ALMA-ATA INFO EDITOR CHARGED WITH 
DISSEMINATING CLASSIFIED INFORMATION 
 
REF: 08 ASTANA 2383 
 
1.  (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  On January 9, the Editor-in-Chief of the 
newspaper "Alma-Ata Info", Ramazan Yesergepov, was formerly charged 
with disseminating classified information in an article his paper 
published on November 21.  Yesergepov has been in the custody of the 
Committee for National Security (KNB) since January 6, when he was 
forcibly taken to Taraz, the capital of Zhambul oblast, for KNB 
questioning.  Yesergepov refuses to give testimony and has declared 
a hunger strike.  His wife petitioned the courts to have a different 
agency investigate her husband, arguing that as the plaintiff in the 
case, the Zhambul oblast KNB cannot be objective.  She requested the 
Embassy's help in assuring the request is granted.  As reported 
previously, Yesergepov sought political asylum at Embassy Branch 
Office (EBO) Almaty on December 1 when the KNB first summoned him 
for questioning.  He left the EBO after receiving assurances that he 
was only wanted as a witness in the investigation.  Despite having 
assured the Charge d'Affaires on December 2 that he would cooperate 
with the investigation, Yesergepov subsequently refused to be 
questioned by the KNB and declared that he would only be questioned 
in court.  Kazakhstani opposition and civil society leaders, usually 
quick to speak up in politically-resonant cases, have remained 
uncharacteristically quiet regarding Yesergepov's case.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
CHARGED WITH DISSEMINATING CLASSIFIED INFORMATION 
 
3.  (SBU)  Ramazan Yesergepov, the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper 
"Alma-Ata Info," was formerly charged with disseminating classified 
information on January 9.  The charge stems from an article 
published in his paper on November 21 that allegedly used classified 
documents as sources (see reftel).  Yesergepov has been in the 
custody of the Zhambul oblast branch of the Committee for National 
Security (KNB) since January 6.  On January 9, a district court in 
Taraz, the capital of Zhambul oblast, formerly charged him with 
violating Article 172, Part 4 of the Kazakhstani Criminal Code for 
divulging and disseminating state secrets leading to grave 
consequences, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of eight years 
in prison.  He was also charged with violating Article 228, for 
abuse of professional authority which damages the interests of 
others.  Yesergepov's wife, Raushan Yesergepova, has appealed the 
decision to the oblast (regional) court.  She also filed a petition 
to have her husband's case investigated by a law enforcement agency 
other than the KNB, arguing that the Zhambul oblast branch of the 
KNB is the plaintiff in this case and therefore cannot be objective 
in its investigation.  Yesergepova asked for the Embassy's help in 
insuring that the court grants her petition.  She told us that 
Yesergepov refuses to give testimony and has gone on a hunger strike 
in protest. 
 
4.  (SBU) According to Yesergepova, her husband was forcefully taken 
into custody in the early hours of January 6 from the Almaty 
hospital where he was being treated for high blood pressure.  She 
did not find out about the situation until mid-morning that day, 
when she went to visit her husband.  The KNB released a statement 
soon after confirming that Yesergepov was "forcibly brought" to 
Taraz after being judged to be in "sound medical condition."  The 
KNB further alleged that Yesergepov "has used multiple excuses and 
tactics to avoid the investigator's summons and has continuously 
tried to politicize the situation."  The statement clarified that 
Yesergepov was wanted for questioning in connection with his paper's 
November 21 article that described corruption in the ranks of 
Zhambyl oblast KNB branch and was purportedly based on classified 
sources.  The officer who allegedly leaked the information to the 
paper was arrested on December 5. 
 
YESERGEPOV RENEGES ON PROMISE TO COOPERATE 
 
5.  (SBU) As reported in reftel, Yesergepov sought political asylum 
at Embassy Branch Office (EBO) Almaty on December 1, after the KNB 
initially summoned him for questioning.  Citing fears for his 
personal safety, Yesergepov refused to leave the premises until the 
Charge impressed upon him the MFA's assurances that he was only 
wanted as a witness and that no harm would come to him if he 
cooperated.  At the time, the KNB publicly confirmed that he was 
"only wanted as a witness and will not be deprived of his freedom" 
 
ASTANA 00000058  002 OF 002 
 
 
if he came in for questioning.  In turn, Yesergepov agreed to leave

the EBO voluntarily and agreed to go to Taraz for questioning. 
 
6.  (SBU) We have kept in close touch with Yesergepov since his 
asylum request.  Several days after leaving the EBO, Yesergepov told 
us that he did not intend to go to Taraz for questioning since it 
was "within his rights" to be questioned by the KNB's Almaty branch. 
 He also filed suits against the KNB for illegal search and seizure 
of his offices and for "attempted kidnapping."  He told us that he 
formerly informed the Procurator General's Office (PGO) that he 
refused to give testimony to the KNB "because they cannot be 
trusted" and that he would "only give testimony in court."  As far 
as we know, the PGO did not respond to his assertions. 
 
OPPOSITION, CIVIL SOCIETY MAINTAIN DISTANCE 
 
7. (SBU) Leading opposition and civil society leaders, who are 
usually quick to speak up in politically-resonant cases, have stayed 
uncharacteristically quiet regarding the Yesergepov affair.  Some of 
them appear to view Yesergepov as a loose cannon.  When we sought 
the help of leading opposition journalist Sergei Duvanov to convince 
Yesergepov to leave the EBO, Duvanov, who has his own history of 
dealing with intimidation by the authorities, told us that while he 
was ready to help, his intervention was unlikely to bring positive 
results since he and Yesergepov "have long been on the outs."  Oleg 
Katsiyev, director of the independent satellite network InterNews, 
told us he was not surprised to hear of Yesergepov's "KNB trouble" 
since "he has long been baiting them."  Human Rights Bureau's 
director Evgeniy Zhovtis, Kazakhstan's most prominent civil society 
activist, consulted with Yesergepov several times, but has since 
distanced himself from the case.  However, several journalists and 
less prominent NGO figures did sign an open letter to President 
Nazarbayev and the Procurator General in support of Yesergepov on 
January 8. 
 
8.  (SBU) COMMENT:  We are continuing to monitor Yesergepov's 
situation and talk with his family on a daily basis, but believe 
that at this juncture, we should follow the example of Kazakhstan's 
opposition and civil society leaders and avoid becoming overly 
entangled in Yesergepov's case, which he, to an extent, has brought 
upon himself by his continued refusal to cooperate with the 
authorities.  The November 21 "Alma-Ata Info" article that landed 
Yesergepov in trouble explicitly referenced documents it admitted 
were classified as "secret."   For Yesergepov to successfully defend 
himself against the criminal charges, he will likely have to show 
that there was no basis for classifying them in the first place -- 
which will perhaps prove to be a very high bar.  END COMMENT. 
 
HOAGLAND

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