Prisoner of the Month July 2005 Sobirjan Yakubov

On 11 April 2005, Hurriyat (Freedom) journalist, Sobirjan Yakubov was detained in Tashkent. For three days the authorities denied that they were holding him but then formally charged him on April 14.

Yakubov is accused of belonging to an extremist religious group and has been charged under Article 159 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan with attempting to overthrow the constitutional order. He faces a possible twenty years in prison.

Although a practising Muslim, Yakubov is not believed to be an extremist and has in fact written about the dangers of fundamentalism. His colleagues believe that the charges against him are fabricated and that the real reason for his arrest is his journalism, particularly an article about the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, which referred to the implication of government officials in the murder of journalist Gongadze, and the need for democratic reform.

There are concerns that 22 year-old Yakubov may have been subjected to torture in order to extract a false confession.

Gayrat Mehliboev is another young Hurriyat journalist who was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to seven years in prison, accused of allegiance to the extremist Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahir, despite protests from observers that there was a lack of evidence to prove this.

The killing of demonstrators in Andijan in May, and the accompanying clamp-down on all media in the area highlights the importance of free speech to ensure that such atrocities are not carried out behind closed doors.

Yakubov has been writing for Hurriyat, a state run newspaper, since 2001. He had previously been awarded signed books by President Karimov in recognition of his journalism. He was studying for a Masters Degree in Journalism at the Tashkent National University.

English PEN believes that this bright young writer is being held in punishment for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Appeals to:

President Islam Abdigamoevich Karimov

Rezidentsiya Prezidenta

Tashkent 70000

Republic of Uzbekistan

Fax: 00 998 71 139 5625

For the Writers in Prison Committee bulletin on Sobirjan Yakubov CLICK HERE

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