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MEPs call for preventing the extradition of Kazakhstani journalist Zhanara Akhmetova from Ukraine

On May 14, 2020, the decision to grant asylum to a prominent Kazakhstani journalist and oppositionist, Zhanara Akhmetova, and her 12-year-old son, was reversed by the Supreme Court of Ukraine, acting as a last instance court. Akhmetova is one of the leaders of the country’s biggest opposition movement “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan”.

On May 21, 2020, six MEPs from the EP’s informal Group of Friends of European Ukraine issued a letter in support of Zhanara Akhmetova, expressing their concerns that the hearing was held without the presence of her attorney and that Akhmetova learned about the decision only 5 days later. They reiterated that her job as a program director at the Kazakhstani opposition TV channel “16/12” and her political activities are the main reasons for the political prosecution against her.  As a consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision, she can be extradited at any moment to Kazakhstan, where she would face torture and unfair trial.

In 2017 Zhanara Akhmetova fled Kazakhstan and applied for asylum for herself and her son in Ukraine due to fears of being prosecuted. The MEPs highlighted that in her legal battle, dating back to 2017, she received wide international support, and that the Migration Service and the Supreme Court of Ukraine have refused to acknowledge that, just as the political context of her case.

In the letter, the undersigned, namely MEPs Petras Auštrevičius (Lithuania; Renew Europe), Vladimír Bilčík (Slovakia; EPP), Bernard Guetta (France; Renew Europe); Patrick Lars Berg (Germany; ID); Rasa Juknevičienė (Lithuania; EPP) and Michal Šimečka (Slovakia; Renew Europe) called upon the responsible Ukranian officials to “devote all possible attention to Ms Akhmetova’s case” and to “re-consider acknowledging the political context of her prosecution and to delay the extradition process”. The importance of Ukraine adhering to all the international conventions to which it is a party during the process was also underlined.

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