Stockholm, September 8, 2023—The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Kyrgyzstan authorities to abandon its latest threat to suspend independent investigative outlet Kloop if it does not remove a September 1 article containing allegedly false information.
“Following their recent application to shutter the outlet and now their threat to block its website, Kyrgyz authorities’ appetite for retaliation against Kloop for its uncompromising anti-corruption reporting appears to know no bounds,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Authorities in Kyrgyzstan must cease all efforts to silence Kloop and repeal the false information law, which has once again proven its only purpose is to shield officials from criticism.”
On Thursday, September 7, Kloop received a letter from Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Culture, Information, Sport and Youth Policy warning that if the outlet didn’t remove a September 1 article within 48 hours its website would be blocked under the country’s false information law. The letter did not specify which information was false and followed a complaint against the outlet by the State Committee for National Security.
The article cited a jailed opposition politician’s allegations of ill-treatment—which he had posted on his personal Facebook page and was widely reported by Kyrgyz media—and included a rebuttal of the politician’s claims by the country’s penitentiary service.
Kloop does not intend to remove the report, the outlet’s co-founder Bektour Iskender told CPJ by phone, and the outlet has filed a complaint with the ministry. Iskender said Kloop has been expecting such a step from authorities and set up a mirror website in February.
On August 22, authorities applied to shutter Kloop after the outlet published an investigation alleging the involvement of relatives of Kyrgyzstan’s president and the head of the State Committee for National Security in the construction of a Barcelona soccer academy in Kyrgyzstan.
Kyrgyz authorities previously blocked Radio Azattyk, the local service of U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, for nine months from October 2022, and restored their access following the removal of a report from the outlet’s websites.