Kazakhstan detains former security chief for treason

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The former head of Kazakhstan’s domestic intelligence agency has been detained on suspicion of high treason, the agency said Saturday, after he was fired amid violent protests.

The National Security Committee, or KNB, said in a statement that its former chief Karim Masimov had been detained on Thursday after it launched an investigation into charges of high treason.

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“On January 6 of this year the National Security Committee launched a pre-trial investigation into high treason,” the statement said.

“On the same day, on suspicion of committing this crime, former chairman of the KNB K.K. Masimov was detained and placed in a temporary detention centre, along with others.”

Masimov, a close ally of Kazakhstan’s founding president Nursultan Nazarbayev, was sacked from his post as head of the KNB this week after protesters in Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty stormed government buildings.

Meanwhile, non-emergency employees working for the United States Consulate General in Kazakhstan were authorized Friday to leave the country, the State Department said, as Kazakhstan’s president rejected calls for talks with protesters after days of unprecedented unrest.

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