Press rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has criticised the three-year jail term handed down to a Kazakh newspaper editor for divulging classified documents.
Kazakhstan, a Central Asian state that will next year chair Europe's main security and human rights body, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has long been criticised in the West for cracking down on independent media.
Ramazan Yesergepov, the owner and editor of Alma Ata Info newspaper, was arrested in January after publishing a letter he said revealed the links between a businessman and the National Security Committee (KNB). He was sentenced this month.
"This outrageous sentence ends a prosecution that was marred by irregularities from the outset," RSF said in a statement. It urged a higher court to overturn Yesergepov's conviction "on the grounds that it violates free expression and democracy".
Ex-Soviet Kazakhstan, which had pledged to liberalise its laws before taking on the OSCE role, has said this year it would not fully implement legal reforms recommended by the OSCE.
Officials cited "country specifics", code for Kazakhstan's 70 years as part of the Soviet Union and lack of democratic traditions.