A Kyrgyz journalist has been charged with illegally obtaining commercial secrets and making them public as a result of an investigative report about a luxury housing compound, her lawyer has told RFE/RL.
Elnura Alkanova was charged on February 13, attorney Jyrgal Babaev said. He contended that the charges were baseless, saying that his client had committed no crime and was just doing her job as a journalist.
In December, the State Service to Fight Economic Crimes (EKKKMK) began investigating a report by Alkanova that suggested a company with potential links to relatives of Prime Minister Sapar Isakov purchased a compound of 48 luxury homes in Bishkek.
The compound used to belong to relatives of ex-President Kurmanbek Bakiev, who was ousted by protests in 2010. The state took over the property after Bakiev fled the country.
After Alkanova's report was published in November, the Prosecutor-General's Office launched an investigation into the purchase, and the probe is still under way.
However, BTA Bank complained to EKKKMK that bank documents containing "commercial secrets" were used in Alkanova's report, and the journalist was ordered not to leave Kyrgyzstan.
The Kyrgyz government then asked Alkanova's employer, Moscow-based online news agency Fergana.ru, to publicly retract her report and apologize. Fergana.ru refused to do so.
The Bishkek-based Committee to Defend the Freedom of Speech has accused the Kyrgyz authorities of violating Alkanova's rights as a journalist.