Statement on the Conviction of Kazakhstan Union of Journalists President Seitkazy Matayev.

The below may be attributed to U.S. Embassy spokesperson Wren Elhai.

We are concerned about constraints on independent media and the implications for freedom of expression in Kazakhstan, as indicated by the criminal convictions and sentences in the case against Seitkazy Matayev and his son, Aset Matayev.  The Matayevs were sentenced to six and five years in prison, respectively, and fined over $1.5 million for fraud and tax evasion, including seizure of their personal property.  Their convictions and the legal proceedings that led to them raise serious questions about due process and fairness in this case.

Seitkazy Matayev is the owner and founder of the National Press Club and KazTAG news agency, and the president of the Kazakhstan Union of Journalists.  Aset is general director of KazTag, an independent wire service in Kazakhstan.  Those who have worked with them speak of their work with respect and credit them with important contributions to the development of independent media in Kazakhstan.

Access to diverse sources of information and opinions are essential elements of any democracy.  We share international concern over the decreasing space for independent media in Kazakhstan.   In the spirit of the U.S. partnership with Kazakhstan, we call on the Government of Kazakhstan to uphold freedom of expression and due process for all citizens as fundamental democratic rights.