Kyrgyzstan Hack Phone Social Media Press Freedom

Kyrgyzstan: Journalists complain about attempts to hack their accounts

In Kyrgyzstan, independent journalists have reported that they have been facing attempts to hack their accounts for several months. The media call it “incessant pressure on journalists” but Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov denies pressure on freedom of speech.

Pressures on journalists in Kyrgyzstan seem to have reached another peak. According to the journalists of Kyrgyz media Kloop.kg, hacking attempts have began back in February 2022, when the accounts of several journalists were attacked on different social networks. According to the publication, hacker attacks occurred from a single phone and IP address.

“The attackers failed to gain access to the accounts of journalists. Attempts to hack two accounts were made from a Xiaomi Redmi A7 model phone from the same IP address”, described Kloop.kg on April 20.

Want more Central Asia in your inbox? Subscribe to our newsletter here.

Journalist of Kloop.kg Aidai Tokoeva reported to Novastan that she was hacked several times on February 8, 2022. According to her, this causes severe anxiety and fear that online attacks may spill over into physical ones. “I remember how anxious I was at the beginning when they tried to hack my Telegram and Facebook, Aidai Tokoeva said. “I had a dissonance, because I have nothing compromising stored in my correspondence and phone. I am taking protective measures — two-factor identification and more. It helps that I’m at least doing my best from my side. If hackers and specialists hack further, then I won’t be able to do it anymore”, she fears.

There is no pressure”, claims Kyrgyz President

According to Kloop.kg, most of the attacks were carried out on February 18, when at least eight journalists faced attempts to hack their accounts. They worked for media such as Kloop.kg, Kaktus Media and Temirov Live. Kloop.kg describes that the attackers managed several times to gain access to the Facebook account of a Temirov Live journalist. Kloop.kg reported that the attackers manage to gain access via SMS code to accounts linked to the number of the state mobile operator Megacom.

Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov said in an interview with Kyrgyz state-media Kabar on April 25 that there is no pressure on freedom of speech in Kyrgyzstan, but accused journalists of publishing false information. “There is no pressure. Everyone writes on social networks what they want. There are media representatives who try to evade responsibility for their crimes, and then shout that they are being arrested. They conduct journalistic pseudo-investigations, give false information, discredit people, bring confusion to society”, Sadyr Japarov said.

Temirov Live aimed by legal procedures

At the same time, Kyrgyz President publicly accused the 42-year-old investigative journalist Bolot Temirov of forgery of documents. Bolot Temirov is known for publishing investigations on corruption and nepotism in power on his Youtube channel Temirov Live. On April 19, 2022, the police opened three criminal cases against Bolot Temirov for forgery of documents and illegal border crossing.

According to the police, 14 years ago, being a citizen of Russia, Bolot Temirov forged a military ID and received Kyrgyz citizenship. With these documents Bolot Temirov crossed the border of Kyrgyzstan dozens of times, which the police consider illegal.

Read also on Novastan: Rise and fall… and rise: the career of Kyrgyzstan’s Sadyr Japarov

“He stole someone else’s military ID, pasted his photo, changed his name and on the basis of this military ID he received a Kyrgyz passport in Uzgen Sadyr Japarov said to Kabar. “Due to the fact that he is a journalist, this case has become resonant. Is there a law against prosecution? How is he better than others? He will answer on an equal basis with others”, Kyrgyz President affirms.

The day before the charges were filed, Temirov Live published an investigation about the head of the State Committee for National Security Kamchybek Tashiev, a close friend of Sadyr Japarov.

Journalists said that since March 2022, Moka Group, Tai-Murasa Tashiev’s company, won tenders with a total amount of 250 000 soms (£ 2 370) for the supply of fuel in Jalal-Abad, the region where Tashiev’s family is from. Tai-Murasa Tashiev is the son of Kamchybek Tashiev. At the same time, Moka Group was the only participant in these tenders, violating the rules of competition.

Investigations aren’t welcomed

Pressures on Bolot Temirov’s are only the latest. Indeed, in total, four criminal cases have been initiated against Bolot Temirov. In January 2022, the first case was brought against him for “manufacturing and possession of drugs.” On the night of January 22, 2022, the State Committee for National Security conducted an unexpected search in the office of Temirov Live and found a bundle of hashish in 7.8 grams in Bolot Temirov’s pants pocket. Employees of Temirov Live said on January 23, 2022 that a few months before during the search, their office and employees were eavesdropped, filmed with hidden cameras and blackmailed.

Also, unknown people leaked a covertly filmed intimate video of one of Temirov Live’s employees, where she was accused of sleeping with Western customers of the media’s investigations.

Shortly before the first arrest, Bolot Temirov published an investigation that Kamchybek Tashiev’s relatives were “becoming oil magnates.” Temirov Live was told that after Kamchybek Tashiyev came to power in 2020, his nephew Baigazy Matisakov headed the state oil company Kyrgyz Petroleum Company.

According to the journalists, Kyrgyz Petroleum Company in June 2021 sold 3 600 tons of fuel to a local company, owned by his friend, for 22 cents. Region Oil resold it to Uzbekistan for 36 cents. Thus, having concluded an unfavorable agreement, Baigazy Matisakov allowed the affiliated company to earn 37 million soms (£350 000).

On a broader scale, media in Kyrgyzstan have been complaining about pressure on journalists and freedom of speech for several years. In March 2021, a rally was held in Bishkek against non-governmental organizations and Radio Azattyk, Kyrgyz branch of American media Radio Free Europe, described Kyrgyz press agency 24.kg. On February 9, 2022, a rally was held in Bishkek for the closure of the publications Kloop.kg and Kaktus Media, describes the Kyrgyz media. The participants of these rallies accuse the publications of receiving money from the West in order to destabilize the situation in the country.

Aizirek Imanalieva
Writer for Novastan in Bishkek

For more news and analysis from Central Asia, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Telegram, Linkedin or Instagram.

Share With:
No Comments

Leave A Comment

Captcha loading...