NUR-SULTAN — A Kazakh court has extended the house arrest of a journalist and blogger accused of involvement in the activities of a banned organization.

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The Nur-Sultan city court on November 16 ordered Aigul Otepova stay under house arrest until December 17.

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The 50-year-old journalist was placed under house arrest on September 17 after she placed a post on Facebook criticizing authorities’ efforts to curb the coronavirus.

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Authorities accused her of supporting the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) opposition movement that had been labeled as extremist and banned in the country.

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Otepova denies any connection with DVK, saying that she is an independent journalist and blogger who expresses her own views.

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Last week, a court ruled to place Otepova in a psychiatric clinic for one month to check her mental sanity.

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Otepova’s lawyer Ghalym Nurpeisov has told RFE/RL he would appeal the ruling, which has not come into force yet.

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Otepova’s daughter, Toqzhan Tugel, told RFE/RL that by placing her mother into a psychiatric clinic, the authorities are trying to silence her ahead of Kazakhstan’s parliamentary elections scheduled for January 10, 2021.

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Human rights groups have criticized the Kazakh government for persecuting independent and opposition journalists for years.

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In 2018, a court in the southern city of Shymkent, placed journalist and blogger Ardaq Ashim in a psychiatric clinic after she criticized the government in her articles.

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After her release, Ashim left for Ukraine, where she currently resides.

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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