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Interrogation of journalists raises concerns about new crackdown on press

first_img New press freedom predators elected to UN Human Rights Council News Organisation Receive email alerts RSF_en February 11, 2021 Find out more to go further More information on media freedom in Central Asia is available at RFE/RL’s Journalists in Trouble page Help by sharing this information October 15, 2020 Find out more Follow the news on Uzbekistan News May 11, 2021 Find out more UzbekistanEurope – Central Asia Reporters Without Borders is very alarmed to learn that five journalists were summoned to the prosecutor’s office in Tashkent yesterday for a grilling about their media activities and their sources of income. It has emerged that two other journalists received similar summonses today.“The international community, which has already made too many concessions to the Uzbek authorities, should make a concerted effort to protect the country’s few remaining independent journalists and prevent a new crackdown,” Reporters Without Borders said.“At least 10 journalists are already in prison in Uzbekistan just for doing their job and some of them are serving long sentences,” the press freedom organisation continued. “Can one reasonably claim that the human rights situation under this dictatorship has improved? Must one sacrifice one’s principles for the sake of access to the country’s energy resources? Alternatives exist. Europe must not stop defending human rights.”The five journalist who were “invited” yesterday to the office of assistant prosecutor Bakhrom Nurmatov were Marina Kozlova, Sid Yanishev (also known as Said Abdurahimov), Khusnutdin Kutbetdinov, Abdumalik Babayev and Vasiliy Markov. Two of the five refused to go on the grounds that it was not a formal summons.Nurmatov told the other three they had been summoned to “clarify the circumstances of their professional activities.” He had a file on each of them which he said contained information gathered by the national security agency and the foreign ministry.Most of Nurmatov’s questions were about the financial support they receive from abroad, whether from foreign journalists or international organisations. He described some of their articles as “biased and tendentious” and as a “slight on the dignity of the Uzbek government.”The two journalists who received similar summonses today were Alexey Volosevich and Andrey Kudryashov. The former was summoned on 8 January, to the prosecutor’s office. The latter had a “chat” the same day with the head of media at the foreign ministry, who handles accreditation.In both cases, the journalists were free to go after the meeting. But Uzbekistan specialists contacted by Reporters Without Borders expressed concern about the development.Marcus Bensmann, a freelance journalist specialising in Central Asia and Uzbekistan, saw the summonses as the start of another and final crackdown with the aim of “destroying once and for all what remains of an independent press in this county.” His view was shared by Galima Bukharbayeva, the editor of the Uznews website.“On the basis of their relations with Europe, especially Germany, and with the United States, whose war against terrorism in Afghanistan they are supporting, the Uzbek authorities apparently consider themselves to be in a position of strength,” Bensmann said. “It is unlikely that they are going to be inclined to show tolerance towards journalists and human rights activists.”Speaking on condition of anonymity, a journalist employed in Uzbekistan by a foreign news organisation told Reporters Without Borders: “The authorities intend to use the need to have accreditation to exercise the closest possible control over the remaining independent journalists.”Under Uzbek legislation, the employees of foreign news media are required to obtain accreditation from the foreign ministry. At the same time, since 2005 and the ruthless suppression of an uprising in the eastern city of Andijan, the foreign ministry has been withdrawing the accreditation of leading international news media such as the BBC and Reuters, whose representatives have been forced to leave the country.Free expression and press freedom are constantly violated in Uzbekistan, and a new crackdown would decimate the country’s already embattled journalistic community. At least 10 journalists including Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov, Jamshid Karimov and Sayid Dilmurod and the writer Yusuf Juma are currently imprisoned in Uzbekistan. Photographer and documentary-maker Umida Akhmedova is also being targeted by the judicial authorities.Despite Uzbekistan’s disastrous human rights record, the last of the sanctions (an embargo on arms sales) imposed on President Islam Karimov’s autocratic regime after the 2005 bloodshed in Andijan was lifted by the European Union on 27 October. News January 8, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Interrogation of journalists raises concerns about new crackdown on press Uzbek blogger facing possible 10-year jail term News More than six years in prison for Uzbek blogger who covered corruption UzbekistanEurope – Central Asia last_img read more

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