The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was troubled to learn that after being released from prison on 7 September, Kazakh critical journalist Zhanbolat Mamay (Жанболат Мамай) received a sentence which bans him from working as a journalist for a period of three years. Mamay works as editor for the “Tribuna ” (Трибуна – Саяси калам).
Mamay was arrested on 10 February 2017 on charges of alleged embezzlement of funds for Mukhtar Ablyazov (Мухтар Аблязов), a government opponent now living in exile. Despite having no real evidence of laundering funds, a court in Almaty sentenced him. The Kazakhstani authorities have labeled him a “member of Mukhtar Ablyazov’s criminal organisation”. The seven months he spent in prison before being released will be deducted from the three year ban. Mamay is the editor of opposition paper Tribuna/Sayasi Kalam, which is suspected to be the actual reason for the trumped up charges against him. The newspaper was one of the last remaining media outlets still critical of the regime. It was forced to close after Mamay’s arrest.
“We are deeply concerned for the state of press freedom and human rights in Kazakhstan” Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General said today. “Not only is a restriction of this sort foolish and unacceptable, it also shows how dire the media situation is in the country. We call on authorities to revoke their sentence and allow Zhanbolat Mamay to work freely, now that he is free again at last” Vujovic added.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.