CPJ welcomes renewed probe into Askarov’s case

New York, April 30, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists commends today’s decision by Oktyabrsky District Court in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, to renew the investigation into the case of imprisoned journalist and rights defender Azimjon Askarov, who was imprisoned in 2010 in retaliation for his work exposing official wrongdoing.

“We welcome the court decision to reinvestigate the case of Azimjon Askarov. The first investigation that landed Askarov in jail was marred by conflict of interest, intimidation of the defense, lack of evidence, and judicial bias,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “We call on Kyrgyz authorities to carry out a thorough, independent, and fair probe into this high-profile case and to ensure justice by appointing independent parties, unrelated to the original probe, to oversee the investigation.”

The court ruled today in response to an appeal by Askarov’s defense team against the Prosecutor General’s Office verdict from February, which said there was no basis to renew the investigation, according to the independent regional news website Ferghana. In 2012, CPJ honored Askarov with its International Press Freedom Award. CPJ is holding the award until Askarov is released from prison and can claim it in person.