New York, July 12, 2016 – Kyrgyz prosecutors should drop all charges against Azimjon Askarov and ensure the journalist’s immediate release, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court today overturned its December 2011 decision to deny the journalist’s appeal of his life sentence on trumped-up murder and incitement charges and ordered a retrial, according to a statement from the court and press reports. Askarov, an independent reporter and human rights advocate who has been jailed since June 2010, remains in state custody pending his new trial. CPJ considers the charges against him to be retribution for his work as a journalist.
“Kyrgyzstan should stop delaying and derailing justice in Azimjon Askarov’s case, and should abandon this cruel farce of a legal process so he can be released without delay,” said Muzaffar Suleymanov, Europe and Central Asia senior research associate. “Each day Askarov spends behind bars compounds the injustice he has suffered since his wrongful arrest more than six years ago.”
CPJ on July 8 called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to use her visit to Bishkek tomorrow to call for Askarov’s release.
The court’s decision followed the UN Human Rights Committee’s March 31 findings that the journalist had been arbitrarily detained, tortured, mistreated, and that he had been prevented from adequately preparing his defense. Askarov is a 2012 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award. CPJ has advocated for his release since he was arrested.