An Uzbek court sentenced Zokirov, an Uzbek reporter who has worked for RFE/RL’s local language service, to six months in prison for insulting a security officer, the U.S.-government-funded radio service said.
Zokirov was summoned to court in the eastern city of Namangan on August 26 on charges of insulting a National Security Service (SNB) officer in a telephone call, RFE/RL said in a statement. Zokirov was detained, tried without counsel or witnesses, sentenced, and imprisoned–all on August 26.
The charge stemmed from an August 6 phone call Zokirov made to the Namangan SNB office to protest government pressure on poet Khaidarali Khomilov. In an earlier interview with Zokirov, the poet criticized the government’s May 13 crackdown in nearby Andijan. Security forces killed hundreds of antigovernment demonstrators in the city that day, according to independent accounts.
In the aftermath of the massacre, Zokirov and other reporters working for foreign media faced harassment. Zokirov’s land and cell phone lines were cut on May 17. His mobile service provider told Zokirov the line was shut down on “higher orders,” RFE/RL said.
Zokirov appealed the conviction. On September 19, the Namangan Appeals Court examined the appeal for 15 minutes and issued a ruling upholding the conviction, the Tashkent-based Arena Committee for Freedom of Speech and Expression reported.