Abdulmalik Boboyev, one of Uzbekistan’s few remaining independent reporters, was fined 10,000 dollars by a Tashkent court today on charges of defamation, insult and threatening public order. Boboyev, who pleaded not guilty, had been facing a possible five-year jail sentence.
A journalist who is renowned for the quality of his reporting and his determination to maintain his independence, Boboyev had done nothing wrong. But any normal journalistic activity is seen as a threat by the Uzbek authorities.
Reporters Without Borders reiterates its support for the small group of Uzbek journalists who have continued for years to try to keep the population informed despite the difficulties and dangers.
Independent journalist goes on trial while international community backs “appalling regime”
Journalist Abdulmalik Boboyev is facing a possible five-year jail sentence for working for the US-funded Voice of America radio station in the trial that began today in Tashkent, the capital of one of Central Asia’s most repressive countries, Uzbekistan.
He is one of Uzbekistan’s few remaining independent reporters and his trial could signal the start of a new offensive against journalists who persist in gathering and disseminating news and information that is not controlled by President Islam Karimov’s government.
Everything about the case is political, from the defendant to the charges and the probable outcome. The trial will almost certainly be a sham. Boboyev has fallen prey to a dictatorial regime that has been reinforcing its control over the media for the past five years and constantly violates human rights.
But the international community had decided that it is in its interest to look the other way and support this appalling regime. If Boboyev become Uzbekistan’s 12th imprisoned journalist, it will constitute another serious failure of this policy of rapprochement.
The Uzbek authorities could still change course in this case if they want to embark on a real dialogue with their partners, above all the European Union and the United States. We urge them to do so.
A total of four charges were brought against Boboyev on 13 September. Three of them relate to his work as a journalist: defamation (article 139 of the criminal code), insult (article 140) and “preparing and disseminating material constituting a threat to public order and security” (article 244-1). The fourth is a trumped-up charge of “illegal entry into the country” (article 223). He was banned from leaving Uzbekistan the same day.
A total of 11 journalists are currently detained in Uzbekistan:
- Khayrullo Khamidov - Nawruz
- Dilmurod Sayid - Ezgulik
- Bakhrom Ibragimov - Irmok
- Davron Kabilov - Irmok
- Ravshanbek Vafoev - Irmok
- Abdulaziz Dadakhonov - Irmok
- Botyrbek Eshkuziev - Irmok
- Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov - freelancer
- Jamshid Karimov - freelancer, wrote for the Fergana.ru and Centrasia.ru websites
- Jusuf Ruzimuradov - Erk
- Mohammed Bekjanov – Erk
Reporters Without Borders calls for their immediate and unconditional release.