January 28, 2009

Islam A. Karimov
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Rezidentysia prezidenta
Ul. Uzbekistaniskaia 43
Fax: +998 71 139 5325

Rashidzhon Kodirov
General Prosecutor
Prokuratura Respubliki Uzbekistan
Ul. Gulyamova 66, 700047
Fax: +998 71 133 39 17/ 133 73 68

Akmal Saidov
Head of the National Center for Human Rights
Natsionalny tsentr po pravam cheloveka
5/3 Mustakillik Maidoni
Tashkent, 700029
Fax: +998 71 139 13 56

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,300 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our concern regarding the sentencing of writer and journalist Salijon Abdurakhmanov.

According to our information, in October 2008, Salijon Abdurakhmanov, who is well known for his reporting on human rights abuse and corruption, was sentenced to ten years in prison for trafficking narcotics after traffic police allegedly discovered illegal substances in his car. Abdurakhmanov denies that he is a narcotics dealer, and says the drugs were planted by the traffic police. He claims that no fingerprints were taken from the packages, nor was he questioned about where they came from, a customary procedure in such cases. His lawyers state that no evidence has been produced in court to substantiate the charges. Mr. Abdurakhmanov’s sentence was upheld and finalized in November when his appeal was overturned by the Supreme Court.

PEN American Center believes Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov to be targeted solely for his human rights reporting, which we consider a breach of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uzbekistan is a signatory. We therefore renew our call for his immediate and unconditional release, and an end to the imprisonment and harassment of all journalists in Uzbekistan for exercising their right to freedom of expression in accordance to international standards.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Abdulaziz Kamilov
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the U.S.
Embassy of Uzbekistan
1746 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036-1903
Fax: (202) 293-6804

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