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Annual Prison Census 2012 - Uzbekistan

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 11 December 2012
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2012 - Uzbekistan, 11 December 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/50c7027a2f.html [accessed 23 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2012

Uzbekistan: 4

Muhammad Bekjanov, Erk
Yusuf Ruzimuradov, Erk
Imprisoned: March 15, 1999

Bekjanov, editor of the opposition newspaper Erk, and Ruzimuradov, a reporter for the paper, are the two longest-imprisoned journalists worldwide, CPJ research shows. Both journalists were jailed on politicized anti-state charges after extradition from Ukraine.

In January 2012, shortly before Bekjanov's scheduled release, authorities sentenced him to another five years in prison for allegedly violating unspecified prison rules, regional press reports said. Bekjanov was being held at a prison colony outside Kasan, southwestern Uzbekistan, in late 2012.

Ruzimuradov was last known to be serving a 15-year prison term in a penal colony outside Navoi, central Uzbekistan. Officials at the Uzbekistan Embassy in Washington did not respond to CPJ's request for information about Ruzimuradov's whereabouts, legal status, or well-being.

Bekjanov and Ruzimuradov were first detained in Ukraine – where they had lived in exile and produced their newspaper – and were extradited at the request of Uzbek authorities. Six months after their arrest, a Tashkent court convicted them on charges of publishing and distributing a banned newspaper. Both were also convicted of participating in a banned political protest and attempting to overthrow the regime.

According to CPJ sources and news reports, both men were tortured before their trial began. After the verdict was announced in November 1999, the two were jailed in high-security penal colonies for individuals convicted of serious crimes.

Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, Uznews
Imprisoned: June 7, 2008

Abdurakhmanov, a reporter for the independent news website Uznews, is serving a 10-year sentence at a penal colony outside the southern city of Karshi after he was convicted on charges of possessing drugs with intent to sell. CPJ has determined the charges were fabricated in retaliation for his journalism.

Abdurakhmanov was imprisoned immediately after traffic police in Nukus, in Uzbekistan's Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic, stopped his car and said they found four ounces (114 grams) of marijuana and less than a quarter ounce (about five grams) of opium in his trunk, Uznews reported. The journalist denied possessing narcotics, and said police had planted them in retaliation for his reporting on corruption in the agency.

Abdurakhmanov's prosecution and trial were marred by irregularities, defense lawyer Rustam Tulyaganov told CPJ. Investigators failed to maintain chain of custody for the seized drugs, and they did not collect fingerprints or other evidence proving Abdurakhmanov ever handled the material, Tulyaganov said. Instead, police agents interrogated Abdurakhmanov, extensively focusing on his journalism, searched his home, and confiscated his personal computer. Ignoring the violations and lack of evidence, a court in Nukus convicted the journalist in October 2008 and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. Higher courts denied his appeals.

Abdurakhmanov had reported on corruption in regional law enforcement agencies, including the traffic police, for Uznews. He also contributed to the U.S. government-funded broadcasters Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America, and the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

In September 2011, authorities rebuffed Abdurakhmanov's application for amnesty, citing alleged violations of penal colony rules, according to CPJ research.

Uznews reported in November 2012 that prison authorities obstructed the International Committee of the Red Cross when it sought to speak with Abdurakhmanov in prison. Abdurakhmanov's son told Uznews that prison officials presented Red Cross staff with another detainee who unsuccessfully purported to be the journalist.

Based on findings by CPJ and other groups, lawyers with the Washington-based advocacy group Freedom Now filed a complaint with the U.N. Human Rights Committee, contesting Abdurakhmanov's imprisonment and calling for his release. Officials at the Uzbekistan Embassy in Washington did not respond to CPJ's request for information about Abdurakhmanov's whereabouts, legal status, or well-being.

Dilmurod Saiid, freelance
Imprisoned: February 22, 2009

Saiid was serving a 12½-year prison term at a high security prison colony outside Navoi, where authorities have denied him adequate medical treatment for tuberculosis that he contracted in jail, according to the Washington-based advocacy group Freedom Now.

Saiid was imprisoned on fabricated extortion and forgery charges in retaliation for his journalism, CPJ's analysis found. Prior to his arrest, Saiid had reported on official abuses against farmers for the independent regional news website Voice of Freedom as well as for a number of local publications.

Authorities arrested Saiid in February 2009 in his hometown, Tashkent, and placed him in detention in the central city of Samarkand after a woman accused him of extorting US$10,000 from a local businessman. The accuser soon withdrew the accusation, saying she had been coerced, but authorities refused to release the journalist, according to Saiid's lawyer, Ruhiddin Komilov. In March 2009, Samarkand prosecutors announced that new witnesses had come forward to accuse Saiid of extortion; authorities also said that several local farmers had accused him of using their signatures to create fraudulent court papers.

At Saiid's trial, Ferghana News reported, the farmers publicly recanted and told the court that prosecutors had pressured them to testify against Saiid. Their statement was ignored, one of several irregularities reported during the proceedings. Komilov, the defense lawyer, said authorities failed to notify him of a number of important hearing dates. When a regional court convicted and sentenced Saiid in a July 2009 closed-door proceeding, the journalist's defense lawyer and family were not present at the hearing.

In November 2009, the journalist's wife and 6-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident on their way to visit him in prison, regional press reports said. Authorities rejected Saiid's 2011 application for amnesty, citing alleged violations of penal colony rules, Uznews reported. Based on findings by CPJ and other groups, lawyers with Freedom Now filed a March 2012 complaint with the U.N. Human Rights Committee, contesting Saiid's imprisonment and calling for his release.

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