A woman holds a portrait of journalist Bolot Temirov during a January 24, 2022, rally calling for no persecution of journalists and the release of Temirov, who was detained in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on January 23. On September 28, a court acquitted Temirov. (AFP/Vyacheslav Oseledko)

‘He should never have been on trial’: CPJ on acquittal of Kyrgyzstan investigative reporter Bolot Temirov

New York, September 28, 2022 – In response to news reports that a court in Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday acquitted investigative reporter Bolot Temirov on charges of drug possession and illegally crossing the state border, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:

“We are relieved by today’s acquittal of Bolot Temirov, but he should never have been on trial in the first place,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York.  “Kyrgyz authorities must stop harassing his outlet Temirov Live and conduct a transparent inquiry into allegations that police planted drugs on him as part of an effort to silence his uncompromising reporting on official corruption.”

The Sverdlovsk District Court in the capital Bishkek found Temirov not guilty and ruled that the investigation into alleged drug possession had not been conducted impartially, those reports stated. The court found Temirov – who has both Kyrgyz and Russian citizenship – guilty of using forged documents to obtain a Kyrgyz passport but did not apply a punishment as the statute of limitations had expired.

Temirov plans to appeal the conviction for the use of forged documents, his lawyer Zamir Jooshev told CPJ by phone, saying that authorities had forged documents to prosecute the case.

Police detained Temirov in a raid on the offices of YouTube-based investigative outlet Temirov Live in January; Temirov said officers planted drugs on him during the raid.

The raid came two days after Temirov Live published a video investigation into alleged corruption by family members of Kamchybek Tashiev, the head of Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security (SCNS). Temirov has repeatedly stated he believes the charges against him are retaliation for that and other reporting on Tashiev.

Subsequent investigations by Temirov Live and the global investigative network Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, partnering with local outlet Kloop, presented numerous indications that authorities fabricated the cases against him and had long been surveilling and harassing Temirov Live staff.

CPJ emailed the Interior Ministry, the prosecutor general’s office, the SCNS, and Tashiev but did not receive any replies. Tashiev denied that Temirov’s investigations are connected to the journalist’s prosecution and stated that SCNS did not play a significant role in the authorities’ investigations into the journalist, according to reports.