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

Although a practising Muslim, Yakubov was not believed to be an extremist and had in fact written about the dangers of fundamentalism. His colleagues believed that the charges against him were fabricated and that the real reason for his arrest was 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.

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.

Sobirjan Yakubov, honorary member of English PEN, was released on 4 April 2006.

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