Thursday, October 25, 2007

Human Rights: Kazakhstan silences critical websites

Radio Free Europe reports Kazakhstan has blocked four opposition news websites in a move that media freedom advocates called "political censorship" in a country increasingly seeking to portray itself as an emerging democracy.

Kazakh authorities have cited several possible reasons for blocking the websites, such as a possibly improper registration for one website whose server is located in France or because another site might risk contagion by a computer viral attack from its U.S.-based host.

All the downed sites share one thing in common: they have recently run stories about apparent government attempts to silence a powerful former confidant of President Nursultan Nazarbaev, his former son-in-law Rakhat Aliev.

They all also linked the closures to the posting of the phone transcripts, some of which discuss Aliev who is sought by Kazakh police on suspicion of involvement in abductions, illegal financial activities, and abuse of office.