New York, May 13, 2020 – In response to today’s decision by Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court to uphold journalist and human rights defender Azimjon Askarov’s life sentence and deny his final appeal, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“Azimjon Askarov has been jailed for nearly a decade in retaliation for his investigative reporting, and today’s court decision denying his final appeal shows that Kyrgyz authorities still have not reckoned with the injustice of his imprisonment,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said. “Askarov will soon turn 69 years old, and his health has been poor behind bars; this life sentence is brutal treatment for an elderly journalist who should be free to work and live peacefully with his family.”
Askarov was arrested on June 15, 2010, while he was documenting alleged human rights abuses by authorities, according to CPJ research. In September 2010, he was sentenced to life in prison. In 2016, the U.N. Human Rights Committee concluded that Askarov had been tortured, arbitrarily detained, and deprived of his rights, and ordered his release.
In March, CPJ joined a letter calling on Kyrgyzstan to release Askarov to ensure his safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.