US envoy to Uzbekistan demands release of detained scribe
TASHKENT (UZBEKISTAN) – The US envoy to Uzbekistan has urged the country and neighbouring Kyrgyzstan to release an Uzbek scribe detained on suspicion of criticising the government on social media.
Ever since President Shavkat Mirziyoyev assumed power in late 2016, he has won praise for opening up the country of 34 million people and releasing prominent dissidents. His actions have prompted the West to rarely criticise Uzbekistan.
US ambassador to Tashkent, Daniel Rosenblum, said he was “deeply concerned” by the case of journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev, who was arrested this month in Kyrgyzstan at Uzbekistan’s request.
Abdullayev told Kyrgyz media he was arrested under the charge of operating an anonymous Facebook account that published allegations of corruptions among senior officials in his country. Uzbekistan now wants him extradited.
“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,” Rosenblum said in a message on Twitter late on Thursday.
“President Mirziyoyev spoke eloquently about media freedom and journalists’ rights in his Constitution Day speech last December, and many times since. The US agrees that a free and independent media is indispensable to a functioning democracy.”
Abdullayev became noticed in a landmark case in 2018 when an Uzbek court cleared him of charges of conspiracy against the government. However, he was sentenced to community service for anti-government propaganda.
His case highlighted the reforms initiated under Mirziyoyev who came to power after the 27-year rule of Islam Karimov who had tolerated no dissent. His poor human rights records invited criticism from the West.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field