Pen Members Called to Support Imprisoned Journalist
International PEN is calling for the release of Salijon Abdurakhmanov, arrested in June 2008 and sentenced in October 2008 to ten years in prison. Although he is accused of dealing in illegal drugs, PEN and other international organizations believe he is being punished for his criticism of the Uzbek authorities.
Abdurakhmanov’s ten-year sentence was upheld in November, when his appeal was overturned by the Supreme Court and the conviction finalized. He is now in Karshi prison where a relative has been able to visit and who reported that although he has been held in isolation, he is not being ill-treated.
Abdurakhmov denies that he is a narcotics dealer, and says the drugs were planted in the car. He claims that no fingerprints were taken from the packages, allegedly containing marijuana and cocaine, nor was he questioned about where they came from, which would be normal procedure in such cases. Originally he had also been charged with drug use, but this was dropped after the investigation revealed that he is not a drug user. His lawyers state that no evidence has been produced in court to substantiate the charges.
As a journalist for Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Voice of America, the Institute of War and Peace Reporting and the web site uznews.net, which is blocked in Uzbekistan, Abdurakhmanov is known for his reports on human rights abuses and corruption. He had apparently written an article that had criticized local traffic police shortly before his arrest. Organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch believe the sentence is clearly aimed stopping his critical reporting.
Write A Letter
- Expressing concern that Salijon Abdurakhmanov remains detained on charges that many fear to have been fabricated and in retaliation for his reporting on human rights;
- Seeking assurances that he is not held in violation of his rights to freedom of expression.
Send Your Letter To
Islam A. Karimov
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Ul. Uzbekistaniskaia 43
Fax: +998 71 139 5325
Email: [email protected]
Prokuratura Respubliki Uzbekistan
Ul. Gulyamova 66, 700047
Fax: 998 71 133 39 17/133 73 68
Email: [email protected]
Head of the National Centre for Human Rights
Natsionalny tsentr po pravam cheloveka
5/3 Mustakillik Maidoni
Fax: +998 71 139 13 56
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Uzbekistan in your country if possible.
Please check with PEN if sending appeals after February 21, 2009: ftw[at]pen.org