kyrgyzstan effort to shut down independent media outlet
In the most recent in a string of attacks on freedom of media and freedom of expression under the rule of President Sadyr Japarov, prosecutors in Kyrgyzstan have filed a lawsuit to seek the shutdown of Kloop over its alleged overly critical stance on government policies.
The suit was filed on August 22 and only came under the spotlight this week. The prosecutors argue the independent news site’s reporting is prompting an increase in “socio-psychological tension” and could worsen the possibility of suicide and “sexual deviancy”.
Kloop remains one of only a handful of media outlets in the country to continue supporting aggressive investigative reporting, including into the financial interests of various officials in the orbit of Japarov, who came to power following a turbulent street uprising in 2020.
While Kyrgyz authorities’ efforts to close a few separate media organisations have been built on allegations of specific acts of rule breaking, the case against Kloop involves far vaguer reasons. Prosecutors blame the site for articles that allegedly sow distrust in the country’s leadership.
Authorities Attacking Outlets That “Demand Transparency”
By generating “panic” and “anxiety” among the public, media outlets like Kloop are causing citizens of Kyrgyzstan to lose hope in their future, pushing them to the verge of mental disorders, drug addiction, suicide and sexually abnormal behavior, the prosecution added.
In one more line of attack, prosecutors raised concerns over Kloop’s bureaucratic and financial structure. They maintain the site doesn’t have the authorisation to engage in journalism since it’s a public foundation and non-profit organisation.
Only the ones that have registered formally as mass media outlets are allowed to carry out journalistic activities, officials argue, adding Kloop has failed to do this. But the outlet’s lawyers dismissed this line of reasoning, stressing they are operating within the law.
Kloop editor in-chief Anna Kapushenko said she was taken aback by the lawsuit, describing it as a fresh attempt by Kyrgyz authorities to build pressure on outlets that “demand transparency”, Eurasianet reported. It remains to be seen how well the site deals with the legal assault.