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Friday 14 August 2020

US Urges Uzbekistan to Release Journalist


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TASHKENT (Reuters) — The U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan has urged the Central Asian nation and its neighbour Kyrgyzstan to set free an Uzbek journalist detained on suspicion of anonymously criticising the government on social media.

The U.S. ambassador to Tashkent, Daniel Rosenblum, said he was “deeply concerned” by the case of Bobomurod Abdullayev, who was detained this month in Kyrgyzstan at Uzbekistan’s request.

Bobomurod Abdullayev

Abdullayev has told Kyrgyz media he was accused of being behind an anonymous Facebook account which published allegations of corruption among senior Uzbek officials. Uzbekistan is now seeking his extradition. Abdullayev came to prominence in a landmark case in 2018 when an Uzbek court cleared him of charges of conspiring against the government, although he was still sentenced to community service for anti-government propaganda.

Rosenblum tweeted late on Thursday:

The governments of both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan should respect Mr. Abdullayev’s freedom of movement and allow him to depart the Kyrgyz Republic to his destination of choice.

President Mirziyoyev spoke eloquently about media freedom and journalists’ rights in his Constitution Day speech last December, and many times since. The U.S. agrees that a free and independent media is indispensable to a functioning democracy.

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