RFE Correspondent Acquitted In Kazakh Libel Case

Alima Abdirova, a correspondent for RFE’s Kazakh Service, Radio Azattyk, has been acquitted of libel.

Abdirova was sued by the former director of a special-needs boarding school in the northwest city of Aqtobe after she alleged in a May report that children there were being abused.

Abdirova told RFE that Judge Maqsat Duisen dropped the libel charges against her today, saying they “have not been proven in the court.” The journalist added that she thinks acquittal became possible only because of attention paid to her case by her colleagues and supporters. A guilty verdict could have brought hefty fines and a sentence of up to three years in prison. 

A freelance correspondent for RFE since 2009, Abdirova told RFE that she believes the libel case against her was retaliation by Kazakhstan’s State Security Committee (KNB) for her news coverage of security issues in the Aqtobe region, including reports on suicide bombing this spring and armed clashes between police and alleged religious extremists in July.

(See RFE’s previous release on Abdirova’s case here.)