Stockholm, February 2, 2023 – In response to news reports that Kyrgyzstan authorities ordered the independent news outlet Kloop to take down a recent article or have its website blocked for two months, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement of condemnation:
“Kyrgyzstan authorities’ attempt to censor Kloop, one of the country’s most respected news outlets, once again shows the absurdity and arbitrariness of its false information law, which should never have been enacted,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Authorities should withdraw their threat to block Kloop’s website, repeal the false information law, and cease their escalating repression of the independent press.”
On January 20, Kloop covered allegations that the state Community Development and Investment Agency, known as ARIS, had inflated its construction costs. On January 25, the outlet reported that ARIS denied the allegations.
In a letter sent along with other documents dated Wednesday, February 1, the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sport, and Youth Policy demanded that Kloop “immediately” remove or amend the January 25 article. ARIS objected to the summary of its denial, that article’s headline, and the mention of a government official who accused the agency of inflating its costs, according to reports by Kloop.
Kloop has refused to take down the article, saying it did not contain false information. If the outlet refuses to comply, its website could be blocked for at least two months under the country’s false information law.
In October 2022, Kyrgyz authorities blocked the websites of Radio Azattyk, the local service of U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and have since applied to shutter the outlet over the same report for which it was blocked.