Dzhamshid Karimov, a freelance journalist and nephew of the late President Islam Karimov, has been detained in a psychiatric facility since January 2012, according to regional news sites and his family.
Karimov, an outspoken critic of the Uzbek regime, was first placed unwillingly in a psychiatric ward in the city of Samarkand in September 2006. In November 2011, reports about his release appeared in regional media. On January 10, 2012, his friend and fellow journalist Ulugbek Khaydarov spoke with Karimov on the phone. According to reports citing Khaydarov, Karimov shared a plan to write a book about alleged corruption in the Uzbek government and the first family. The journalist told Khaydarov that he was being followed and had received death threats over the phone.
On November 18, 2016, Karimov’s daughter, Yevgeniya, told the independent regional website AsiaTerrathat the journalist was forcibly returned to a psychiatric ward in January 2012. “He was summoned to the security services’ office where he was beaten up by four men and forced back into the facility. He was bruised, his teeth were shattered. There was no trial,” she said. Yevgeniya Karimov added, “They told me he is there because he got in touch with his friends [journalists].”
She told AsiaTerra her father is kept with “other patients, including murderers” in a room with barred windows and is allowed only rare visits from family in the presence of either police or doctors. He cannot receive any news and has not been informed about the death of the president, she said.
Karimov did not appear on last year’s prison census because CPJ was not aware he had been returned to custody.
Karimov contributed to the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting and worked for a number of independent newspapers and online publications, including the Almaty-based news website Liter and Moscow-based independent regional website Fergana. He criticized both local and national authorities in his coverage of Uzbek social and economic problems.
Karimov’s earlier arrest was discovered by his friends a few days after he disappeared from his hometown of Jizzakh on September 12, 2006. The friends discovered he had been forcibly committed to a psychiatric hospital in Samarkand by Uzbek authorities. At the time, government officials refused to release any information on the court proceedings that led to his involuntary confinement. Initially, he was held without access to a lawyer, or visits from family and friends, the independent regional website Ferganareported at the time.
Local authorities closely monitored Karimov’s journalism and police followed him prior to his confinement, according to his colleagues and friends. In August 2006, authorities seized Karimov’s passport when he applied for an exit visa to attend a journalism seminar in Kyrgyzstan. CPJ and other rights groups repeatedly called on Uzbek authorities to release the journalist.
Aleksey Volosevich, a correspondent for AsiaTerra, told CPJ on November 18, 2016, that Kairmov’s daughter said he has chronic ailments and that he is in grave condition.