Stockholm, August 15, 2023—In response to a Tajikistan court’s recent rejection of journalist Khurshed Fozilov’s appeal of a seven-year prison sentence, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement calling for his immediate release:
“Tajik authorities’ rejection of journalist Khurshed Fozilov’s appeal serves to highlight how the courts have facilitated the criminalization of the press in the country,” said Carlos Martínez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “Fozilov is at least the seventh Tajik journalist to be sentenced to a lengthy prison term in the past year. Authorities must release him and all other jailed members of the press at once, and thoroughly investigate allegations that Fozilov was mistreated in custody to force a confession.”
Tajik security services arrested Fozilov, an independent reporter who covers social issues, on March 6 in the northwestern city of Panjakent. On May 26, after a two-day closed-door trial in a detention center, a court found him guilty of participating in banned extremist organizations, without providing further details.
In June, Fozilov’s family told the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the journalist was convicted for sending information to the exiled news website Akhbor, but said he had not done so since the outlet was banned in 2020. His family also said that authorities had physically abused Fozilov to coerce a confession.
The Sughd region court rejected Fozilov’s appeal on July 12, but the decision was only made public in a Supreme Court news conference on August 14.
Since October 2022, Tajik authorities have sentenced journalists Abdullo Ghurbati, Daler Imomali, Zavqibek Saidamini, Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda, Ulfatkhonim Mamadshoeva, and Khushruz Jumayev to between seven and 20 years in prison in retaliation for their work