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Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov is seen in Bishkek on December 25, 2019. Khadicha Askarova, the wife of imprisoned journalist Azimjon Askarov, recently wrote a letter to Jeenbekov pleading for the journalist’s release. (AFP/Vyacheslav Oseledko)

Wife of imprisoned journalist Azimjon Askarov calls for his release as COVID-19 hits Kyrgyzstan

March 23, 2020 3:15 PM ET

On March 11, Khadicha Askarova, the wife of imprisoned journalist Azimjon Askarov, wrote a letter to Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov pleading for the journalist’s release.

Askarov, 68, has been in jail since June 2010 serving a life sentence on retaliatory charges over his journalism, and has developed cardiac problems including tachycardia and hypotension while imprisoned, according to CPJ research. In her letter, Askarova notes that he has also required painkillers for bone and joint pains. CPJ has repeatedly called for Askarov’s release from prison.

Kyrgyzstan announced its first cases of COVID-19 on March 18 and declared a state of emergency on March 22, according to news reports. The virus is particularly dangerous to older people with underlying medical conditions, according to the World Health Organization.

The letter, which CPJ translated to English, can be read here.

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