On World Press Freedom Day, OCCRP Presses for Release of Partners in Kyrgyzstan

Published: 03 May 2024

Freekyrgyz ProjectEleven journalists from Kyrgyzstan have been charged by the authorities with “inciting mass unrest.” Clockwise from top left: 1) Zhumabek Turdaliyev 2) Tynystan Asypbek 3) Aike Beishekeyeva 4) Aktilek Kaparov 5) Zhoodar Buzumov 6) Azamat Ishenbekov 7) Saparbek Akunbekov 8) Maksat Tazhibek 9) Makhabat Tazhibek 10) Saipidin Sultanaliyev 11) Akyl Orozbekov. (Image credit: James O’Brien)


Journalists connected to anti-corruption outlet Temirov Live remain in jail and under house arrest.

Kyrgyzstan authorities should drop charges against 11 current and former staff of anti-corruption investigative outlet Temirov Live and release them from jail and house arrest.

In a series of raids on January 16, police searched Temirov Live’s office and the homes of the 11 journalists, confiscated equipment, and arrested the journalists on vague charges of “inciting mass unrest.”

Four people — Temirov Live director Makhabat Tajibek kyzy, investigative reporter Aike Beishekeyeva, commentator Azamat Ishenbekov, and former Temirov Live journalist Aktilek Kaparov — are in pretrial detention until May 13 and a court hearing is expected in the next few days. Six others are under house arrest, and one had charges dropped against him but cannot travel outside of the country.

At the time of their arrests, several of the detained journalists were working on stories with OCCRP, which is continuing their investigative work along with its global network. We continue to demand their release.

“We may not be able to stop scared and corrupt autocrats from throwing journalists in jail because of their work,” said OCCRP Editor in Chief Miranda Patrucic. “But as we have shown previously, detaining journalists won’t stop the reporting. It doesn't matter if you jail one or 11 of us — the work will be carried on by many, many other determined reporters eager to expose wrongdoing in service of the public.”

In February, OCCRP published “Uncensored: The Kyrgyzstan Project” featuring an in-depth analysis of the press freedom rollbacks in the country. OCCRP also launched the #FreeKyrgyz11 campaign asking people to post videos of support on social media and individuals and organizations from all over the world have participated. Upcoming investigations will be featured on this project page.

"The 2024 World Press Freedom Index released today shows Kyrgyzstan ranks #120 out of 180 countries. But the Index score was tallied before this year's raid on the 11 independent journalists and the passage of the draconian "foreign agents" law, which are further blows to journalists trying to do their jobs in Kyrgyzstan," said Jeanne Cavalier, the head of Eastern Europe and Central Asia for Reporters Without Borders. "Press freedom has deteriorated sharply in the country, which was already reflected in last year's 50-place drop, the worst in the Europe-Central Asia region and the second worst in the world, after Bhutan."