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Kazakh Activist Released After 'Repentance' Letter

Accused of "inciting hatred" Serikzhan Mambetalin. Almaty, 20Jan2016
Accused of "inciting hatred" Serikzhan Mambetalin. Almaty, 20Jan2016

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- A Kazakh civil rights activist convicted and jailed for inciting social hatred has been released after "repenting."

Serikzhan Mambetalin and his colleague, Ermek Narymbaev, were sentenced to two and three years in prison, respectively, on January 22.

Both Mambetalin and Narymbaev pleaded not guilty, saying the charges against them were politically motivated.

On January 29, Mambetalin posted a letter on Facebook in which he wrote that he was "guilty and sorry for his mistakes," adding that he "committed the crime unintentionally."

Mambetalin's lawyer, Ermurat Muqanov, told RFE/RL on February 1 that his client was released from custody on January 30 but ordered not to leave Almaty until hearings into his appeal are held.

Mambetalin and Narymbaev, who are known for their criticism of the government, were arrested in mid-October after investigators accused them of "inciting social hatred" by posting things on Facebook.

Narymbaev -- who has refused to repent and maintains his innocence -- remains in a detention center in Almaty.