New York, July 11, 2018--A Tajik court today found independent journalist Khayrullo Mirsaidov guilty of embezzling and misusing state fund and false reporting to police and sentenced him to 12 years in a high-security prison, according to media reports and the journalist's friends with whom CPJ spoke. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the ruling and called on Tajik authorities to release Mirsaidov immediately.
His lawyers said they will appeal, according to news reports.
"Journalists like Khayrullo Mirsaidov should be recognized for reporting on matters of public interest, not imprisoned on bogus charges for doing their jobs," said CPJ's Europe and Central Asia research associate, Gulnoza Said. "We call on Tajik authorities to release Khayrullo Mirsaidov right away and to not contest his appeal."
Mirsaidov was arrested on December 5, 2017, weeks after publishing an open letter to the country's president, Emomali Rahmon, and other officials in his native Sughd region asking them to crack down on corrupt local authorities. The journalist has denied the charges, CPJ has documented.