Azimjon Askarov

On July 25, 2020, journalist Azimjon Askarov died in prison from health complications that his family suspect to be COVID-19. Authorities refused to administer a test to Askarov, who had been sick with a fever for weeks, according to his wife. Askarov, a contributor to independent news websites including Voice of Freedom, was imprisoned in June 2010 for his coverage of ethnic conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan. He spent over a decade behind bars. 

Authorities Kyrgyzstan resisted international calls for his release, despite widespread international condemnation. In July 2019, a provincial court again upheld his life sentence, and in May 2020, Askarov lost his final appeal to the Supreme Court. CPJ’s tireless work on his behalf spans a decade; from international missions, to high-level meetings and events, to multiple campaigns, including #FreeAzimjon. We shared his story with politicians and policymakers in Brussels, Washington, D.C., and at the U.N., but to no avail. 

That his death was avoidable makes it all the more heartbreaking. 

Learn more about Azimjon’s story here, and join CPJ’s efforts to secure the release of all jailed journalists amid the global pandemic by supporting our #FreeThePress campaign.