The Observatory has been informed about the ongoing judicial harassment of investigative journalist Bolot Temirov. Mr Temirov is the founder of “Temirov Live”, a YouTube channel in which he reports on cases of state corruption.
On October 27, 2022, the General Prosecutor's Office filed an appeal against the acquittal of Mr Temirov, who had been previously tried in a trumped-up case and partially acquitted. The case concerned charges of “illegal possession of drugs”, “illegal border crossing” and “document forgery” (Article 283.1, Article 378.1 and Article 379 of the Criminal Code of Kyrgyzstan, respectively).
On September 28, 2022, the Sverdlovsk District Court in Bishkek partially acquitted Mr. Temirov, finding the first two charges unproven and the investigation biased. The court, however, found Mr. Temirov guilty of “documents forgery”, but no punishment was imposed due to the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Mr Temirov has also appealed his conviction on the charge of “document forgery”.
The Observatory recalls that on January 22, 2022, the police raided the YouTube channel office in Bishkek, seized equipment that contained journalistic investigations, planted a bag of drugs into Mr Temirov’s pocket and arbitrarily arrested him. Mr Temirov was subsequently charged with “illegal possession of drugs”. He was released on bail the day after with instruction not to leave the city. This measure will remain in force until the appeal is resolved.
On April 20, 2022, Bishkek city police presented new charges against Mr Temirov, including “illegal crossing of the state border” , and “forgery of documents”, as they claimed he used false documents to obtain a Kyrgyz passport in 2008. A month later, on May 17, 2022, the Kyrgyz passport of Mr. Temirov was recognised as void by the Ministry of Interior. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, he did not possess a valid Kyrgyz passport.
The Observatory underlines that the judicial and administrative harassment of Bolot Temirov seem to be in retaliation for the publication of an investigation on his channel about the alleged involvement of the family of Kamchybek Tashiev, the head of the State Committee for National Security, in a corruption case. Other team members of the channel “TemirovLive” are subject to threats, surveillance, smear campaigns and other forms of harassment.
The Observatory underlines that since President Sadyr Japarov came into power, in October 2020, despite repeated statements from the authorities on the importance of the preservation of freedom of speech and its invaluable role in combatting corruption, the climate for freedom of expression and assembly in Kyrgyzstan has been deteriorating and has created fear among human rights groups and defenders.
The Observatory welcomes the acquittal of Bolot Temirov, but condemns the ongoing administrative and judicial harassment against him, as they seem to be merely aimed at silencing and punishing him for exercising his right to freedom of expression. The Observatory urges the authorities to put an immediate end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial and administrative levels, against him and all human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan.
The Observatory further urges the Kyrgyz authorities to carry out an immediate and thorough investigation into the alleged use of forged evidence against Bolot Temirov.