Journalist detained for 40 days without due process

Editor’s note: The original text of this alert has been corrected to accurately characterize the newspaper Minbar i Halq.

New York, June 2, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the 40-day detention of Jumaboy Tolibov, an independent journalist from northern Tajikistan.

This week, deputy regional prosecutor Izatullo Mukhammadiyev confirmed the journalist’s detention on criminal charges of hooliganism and opposition to a state representative. Mukammadivev refused to provide details about the charges, citing an ongoing investigation, according to the National Association of Independent Media of Tajikistan (NANSMIT), a Dushanbe-based press freedom group.

Police detained Tolibov on April 24 in the capital of Dushanbe, under the direction of Ayni district prosecutor Sabit Azamov, NANSMIT reported. Tolibov was later transferred to the Ayni district remand center where he continues to be held, according to local press reports.

Today, NANSMIT distributed a letter written by Tolibov while in the Ayni center. The journalist said that in the summer of 2004, while doing an investigative piece on the prosecutor office’s effectiveness in solving local crimes, Tolibov requested information from Azamov. Azamov then attacked him in his office, Tolibov said. He also said that he believes that Azamov arrested him this spring in retaliation for the articles he subsequently wrote about Azamov’s attack.

Tolibov wrote three articles in late 2004 criticizing Azamov for beating him and reproaching local authorities for refusing to investigate the incident. The articles included “A barbarian prosecutor” and “Who supports a barbarian prosecutor?” in the ruling party newspaper Minbar i Halq and “Who will protect us?” in the parliamentary newspaper Sadoi Mardum.

CPJ’s efforts to contact Azamov’s office in rural Tajikistan were unsuccessful.

“We are very concerned that our colleague Jumaboy Tolibov is being held in custody without due process,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We call on President Imomali Rakhmonov to ensure that prosecutors clarify the reason for Tolibov’s detention or release him immediately.”