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Kyrgyz journalist and rights advocate Azimjon Askarov is seen on January 24, 2017. CPJ recently signed on to a letter to Frederica Mogherini, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, urging for his release. (AP/Vladimir Voronin)

CPJ joins letter to EU's Mogherini urging release of Kyrgyz journalist Askarov

By Gulnoza Said, CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator on July 1, 2019 3:30 PM ET

CPJ joined seven other human rights and freedom of expression groups in writing a letter, made public today, calling on the government of Kyrgyzstan to release journalist and rights advocate Azimjon Askarov.

The letter was sent on June 11 to Frederica Mogherini, the European Union's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, and was made public in the run-up to the European Union-Central Asia ministerial meeting to be held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital, on July 7. The letter calls on Mogherini to urge Kyrgyz authorities to release Askarov immediately and transfer him to a safe third country for medical treatment.

Askarov, 68, is an independent journalist and activist from southern Kyrgyzstan who has been serving a life sentence since June 15, 2010, on charges brought in retaliation to his work, according to CPJ research. His family told CPJ on June 3 that they were concerned about his health in prison.

In 2016, the U.N. Human Rights Committee released a statement saying that Askarov was subject to torture and mistreatment and should be released without delay. However, Kyrgyz authorities defied the United Nations and upheld his life sentence in 2017, as CPJ reported at the time.

The full text of the letter is available here.

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