English PEN is shocked to learn of the ten year prison sentence served against the independent journalist and human rights defender Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, on 10 October 2008. Abdurakhmanov was arrested in early June 2008 on charges of possessing illegal drugs, charges widely considered to have been fabricated in retaliation for his human rights reporting.
Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov is a journalist working for the independent German-based Uzbek agency Uznews.net and the chairperson of the Committee for the Defence of the Rights of the Individual. He was arrested on 7 June 2008 by traffic police in Nukus, on the Turkmen border, who stopped and searched his car and then claimed to have found illegal drugs. On the same day police searched his home and his workplace and confiscated a laptop computer, books, and notes, amongst others. Later, Abdurakhmanov was questioned about a biography of the exiled leader of the banned opposition party Erk, found by police amongst his belongings.
It has been reported that Abdurakhmanov has denied the use of narcotics or being in possession of illegal substances, and that medical tests’ results confirmed that he is not a drug user. The information found in his belongings has shown no evidence of any illegal activity. Abdurakhmanov’s defence alleged that the charges against him were pre-fabricated and are a punishment for his journalistic and human rights work. They believe that the illegal substances were placed in Abdurakhmanov’s car either by the police or by a third party. Despite this lack of evidence, a district court in Nukus, the capital of the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan, western Uzbekistan, convicted him as charged. He will appeal the sentence.
Abdurakhmanov is well known for his reporting and monitoring of human rights, economic and social issues in the region. Prior to his arrest he had expressed concerns that he may suffer reprisals for his writings. Amnesty International is among those who believe that the charges are questionable and considers Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov to be a prisoner of conscience.
English PEN considers his conviction to be a serious breach of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uzbekistan is a signatory, and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
To read more about his case, see the full Amnesty International appeal.
For the BBC’s Uzbek country profile, click here.
For more on internet censorship in Uzbekistan go to the International Crisis Group.
Please send appeals:
– Expressing shock at the harsh sentence served against Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov in violation of his right to freedom of expression as recognised by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uzbekistan is a signatory;
– Calling for Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov to be immediately and unconditionally released;
– Urging for an end to the imprisonment and harassment of journalists in Uzbekistan in the practice of their right to freedom of expression in accordance to international standards.
Minister of Internal Affairs Bahodir MATLIUBOV
Ministerstvo vnutrennikh del RU
ul. Junus Rajabiy 1
Fax: 998 71 233 89 34
Salutation: Dear Minister Matliubov
Deputy Prosecutor General, Alisher SHARAFUTDINOV
Prokuratura Respubliki Uzbekistan
ul. Gulyamova 66
Fax: 998 71 233 39 17/ 133 73 68
Salutation: Dear Mr Sharafutdinov
Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir NOROV
Ministerstvo inostrannykh del RU
pl. Mustakillik, 5
Fax: 998 71 139 15 17
Head of the Nukus City Department of Internal Affairs (police)
Glave GOVD, Gorodskoi Otdel Vnutrennikh Del
ul. Biruni, g. Nukus
Please also send copies to the representative of Uzbekistan in your country:
HE Mr Tukhtapulat Tursunovich Riskiev
41 Holland Park
London W11 3RP
Fax: (020) 7229 7029
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/uzbekistanindependentjournalistsentenced/