Media Releases from members of Sources
To submit a news release, use this form
Kazakhstan Misusing Court Order to Censor Online Newspaper
June 29, 2015U.S. Battle Over Leaked Emails Leads to Threats to Respublika Site
San Francisco - Online news publisher Respublika has asked a federal judge in New York to clarify that officials in Kazakhstan cant use a U.S. court order in a battle over leaked emails to censor news stories that are critical of the Kazakhstan government. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is representing Respublika, a longtime target of Kazakhstan intimidation and persecution because of its investigative reporting on President Nursultan Nazarbayevs regime.
An American court order is being misused to silence worldwide discussion and debate over a foreign governments actions, said EFF Civil Liberties Director David Greene. For years, Kazakhstan has tried to shut down Respublika and harassed its founders, and were asking the judge to put a stop to Kazakhstans use of the courts ruling as another tool in this censorship campaign.
The case began in March, when Kazakhstan sued dozens of unnamed individuals in a New York district court for allegedly breaking into government computers and stealing thousands of messages sent from Gmail accounts. The judge in the case issued a preliminary injunction, forbidding these unnamed individuals from disseminating, using, or viewing the material.
Respublika, like many news outlets around the world, reported on the emails after others had posted them publicly. But Kazakhstan government attorneys have since sent multiple letters to the newspapers web host, demanding the removal of dozens of articles. Earlier this month, Kazakhstan went further, claiming that the court order required that Respublikas entire site be disabled. The government also subpoenaed Facebook as well as the newspapers web host and domain registrar to obtain personal identifying information about the authors and readers of Respublikas articles. To date, 47 articles have been removed and are no longer available to readers in the United States, Kazakhstan, and around the world.
This abuse and misuse of the courts order is just the latest in Kazakhstans decade-long persecution of Respublika and those associated with it. Respublika has been driven out of Kazakhstan and subjected to an almost constant stream of coordinated DDoS attacks, and its founders have been subject to extreme harassment and intimidation.
Kazakstan is one of two countries still in the running to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Earlier this week, the New York Times reported on how concerns about free expression and human rights might affect the countrys bid.
Kazakhstan came to a U.S. courtwhere the First Amendment protects the publication of material even if a source obtained that material illegallybut its flouting our law. Kazakhstan officials are unilaterally deciding to whom the order applies and what the consequences are, said Jamie Lee Williams, EFF Frank Stanton Legal Fellow. The Respublika journalists simply did what they are supposed to do: report on information and events that affect peoples lives. Kazakhstan must not be allowed to censor their speech in this way.
For the full letter to the judge:
For more information contact:
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Jamie Lee Williams
Frank Stanton Legal Fellow
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Sources home page