New York, June 12, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by Bishkek City Court’s refusal to open a new investigation into the case of Azimjon Askarov, a journalist and human rights defender who has been imprisoned in Kyrgyzstan since 2010 in retaliation for his work exposing wrongdoing. The court scrapped today an earlier decision by a lower Bishkek court, which had ruled that the journalist’s case should be reinvestigated. Askarov’s lawyer has said he will appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, reports said.
“We call on Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court to reverse the decision on appeal and allow a new probe into Azimjon Askarov’s case, including the insufficient evidence of his alleged guilt, the multiple procedural violations during his detention and trial, and his torture in police custody,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “We urge the Kyrgyz authorities to remedy the injustice that is Askarov’s incarceration.”
Askarov was sentenced to a life term in September 2010 in retaliation for his coverage of official wrongdoing and abuse. His prosecution and conviction have been challenged by a range of human rights organizations as well as the Kyrgyz government’s own ombudsman’s office. 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.