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Uzbekistan: Committee to Protect Journalists demands the release of imprisoned Uzbek journalists
According to a recent statement by the Committee to Protect Journalists, with eight journalists in prison, Uzbekistan has confirmed its title as the leading jailer of journalists in Europe and Central Asia, Uznews.
Uznews report on statement by the Committee to Protect Journalists
The Committee has urged the Uzbek government to immediately release two journalists – Dilmurod Sayid and Kushodbek Usmon, who were detained on trumped-charges in the past month.
On Sunday independent journalist Dilmurod Sayid was detained on extortion charges in Tashkent and was sent to Samarkand for interrogation. These charges are based on evidence by Samarkand resident Marguba Jurayeva that she had extorted $10,000 from local businessmen on Sayid’s orders.
Although Jurayeva retracted her earlier statement, prosecutors have not dropped their charges against Sayid who is now facing up to 15 years in prison.
Human rights activists believe that the journalist is being punished by the authorities for his article about illegal seizures of farmers’ land in the Samarkand Region.
His colleague from the Andijan Region, Kushodbek Usmon, was arrested on hooliganism charges on 13 January. Later his charges were changed to defamation and insult, even though prosecutors have failed to specify whom he insulted or defamed.
Activists believe that the reason for his detention was his series of articles about the wrongdoings of high-ranking police officers. Now if found guilty he will face up to 3.5 years imprisonment.
“We call on the Uzbek authorities to immediately release Dilmurod Sayid and Kushodbek Usmon and stop harassing the handful of independent journalists that remain in the country,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Programme Coordinator Nina Ognianova.
“Uzbekistan is the leading jailer of journalists in Eurasia. The Government of Islam Karimov has shown an unrelenting hostility toward any independent reporting and illustrated it once again by these most recent arrests.” she added.