ALMATY, Kazakhstan — A court in Kazakhstan has rejected a request for early release filed by jailed activist Almat Zhumaghulov, whom rights organizations in the Central Asian country have recognized as a political prisoner.
Zhumgahulov’s relatives and colleagues told RFE/RL on February 24 that a court in Qapshaghai in the southern region of Almaty made the decision the previous day.
The relatives said that Zhumaghulov took part in the hearing via video link from a penal colony in the town of Zarechny and that the ruling will be appealed.
Zhumaghulov and another activist, Kenzhebek Abishev, were sentenced to eight years and seven years in prison, respectively, in December 2018 after they and a third defendant were found guilty of planning a “holy war” because they were spreading the ideas of the banned Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) opposition movement.
The two pleaded not guilty, calling the case against them politically motivated.
Last week, Abishev, who was previously granted an early release for good behavior in prison, was not released as expected after the Almaty regional prosecutor/s office appealed the ruling to free him at the very last moment.
The DVK was founded by Mukhtar Ablyazov, an outspoken critic of the Kazakh government who has been residing in France for several years.
Ablyazov has been organizing unsanctioned anti-government rallies in Kazakhstan via the Internet while in exile.