Kyrgyzstan: journalist charged over investigative report on luxury homes

BISHKEK (TCA) — A journalist in Kyrgyzstan has been charged with illegally obtaining commercial secrets and making them public as a result of an investigative report about a luxury housing compound in Bishkek, her lawyer has told RFE/RL.

Elnura Alkanova was charged on February 13, attorney Jyrgal Babaev said. He contended that the charges were baseless, saying that his client had committed no crime and was just doing her job as a journalist.

In December, the State Service to Fight Economic Crimes began investigating a report by Alkanova that suggested a company with potential links to relatives of Kyrgyz Prime Minister Sapar Isakov purchased a compound of 48 luxury homes in Bishkek.

The compound used to belong to relatives of ex-President Kurmanbek Bakiev, who was ousted by protests in 2010. The state took over the property after Bakiev fled the country.

After Alkanova’s report was published in November, the Prosecutor-General’s Office launched an investigation into the purchase, and the probe is still under way.

However, BTA Bank complained to the State Service to Fight Economic Crimes that bank documents containing “commercial secrets” were used in Alkanova’s report, and the journalist was ordered not to leave Kyrgyzstan.

The Kyrgyz government then asked Alkanova’s employer, Moscow-based online news agency, to publicly retract her report and apologize. refused to do so.

The Bishkek-based Committee to Defend the Freedom of Speech has accused the Kyrgyz authorities of violating Alkanova’s rights as a journalist.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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