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Journalist Azimjon Askarov has been imprisoned in Kyrgyzstan since 2010 on trumped-up charges. Photo provided by Askarov's family.

Kyrgyz president must release journalist Azimjon Askarov amid COVID-19 epidemic

By Gulnoza Said/CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator on March 31, 2020 4:49 PM ET

CPJ today joined eight other human rights and press freedom organizations to call for the immediate release of journalist and human rights defender Azimjon Askarov, who has been serving a life sentence in retaliation for his reporting since June 2010.

The joint letter to Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, led by Human Rights Watch, notes that Askarov, 68, has suffered from deteriorating health amid harsh prison conditions and is at a high risk of death with the spread of COVID-19 in Kyrgyzstan. On March 22, the government of Kyrgyzstan declared a state of emergency and introduced restrictions on public life after several people in the country were diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The letter demands that the Kyrgyzstan government finally act on the 2016 call by the U.N. Human Rights Committee for Askarov to be immediately released and his conviction quashed.

Read the full letter in English and Russian.