17 June 2011

Alert

BBC correspondent detained on extremism charges


Incident details

Charges laid, Detention

Urinboy Usmonov, Journalist
(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, June 16, 2011 - The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention and reported beating in custody of Urinboy Usmonov, a local correspondent for the BBC Central Asia service, and calls for his immediate release.

Police in the city of Khujand, northern Tajikistan, detained Usmonov on Monday on charges of belonging to the banned Islamic group Hizb-ut-Tahrir, local and international press reported.

According to the Russian news agency Regnum, Tajik Interior Ministry spokesman Makhmadullo Asadulloyev told journalists Wednesday that Usmonov joined Hizb-ut-Tahrir in 2009, and distributed extremist materials and leaflets in the Web-based social networks. Usmonov also allegedly agitated local residents through online social networks to join the banned group, Asadulloyev said.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the BBC World Service denied the allegations and demanded Usmonov's immediate release: "Usmonov has reported on the judicial trials and activities of the Hizb-ut-Tahrir party in Tajikistan at the request of the BBC, the BBC has no reason to believe these allegations." Usmonov's family said that the journalist appeared to have been beaten up, the statement said. Before his arrest, Usmonov returned home with several police officers who searched his house, the BBC reported.

"These charges against Urinboy Usmonov are nothing but an attempt to censor coverage of sensitive political and religious issues," CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney said. "Authorities must release him immediately."

Fayzinisso Vakhidova, Usmonov's lawyer, told The Associated Press that authorities had placed the journalist in a high-security prison and denied him access to a lawyer for two days.

The British Embassy in Tajikistan also expressed concerns over Usmonov's arrest and maltreatment, and urged Tajik authorities to respect press freedom and their international commitments, according to the BBC.

Source:

Putting free expression issues in perspective.

Sign up to receive IFEX In Context.

Updates to this story

Imprisoned BBC reporter faces up to 15 years in jail 28 June 2011
Tajikistan
 
More from Tajikistan
  • Freedom of the Press 2016: Tajikistan

    The government ordered the temporary blocking of Facebook and other popular social-networking sites in May, apparently to suppress news about a Tajik police commander who had joined the Islamic State militant group in Syria.

  • Freedom of the Press 2015: Tajikistan

    Ranked 179th in annual global media freedom report

  • Attacks on the Press in 2013: Tajikistan

    "Experts say new media law represents progress, but requires improvement"


At this point, would publish cover: "Home page"
At this point, would publish story-with-this-as-anchor: "Imprisoned BBC reporter faces up to 15 years in jail"
 
IFEX is a global network of committed organisations working to defend and promote free expression.
Permission is granted for material on this website to be reproduced or republished in whole or in part provided the source member and/or IFEX is cited with a link to the original item.