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Uzbekistan13 August 2007

Detained journalist’s health declines in psychiatric hospital

Freelance journalist Jamshid Karimov, who has been held against his will in a psychiatric hospital since September 2006, has reported in a message smuggled out to friends that his health is declining and he attributes this to the psychotropic drugs he is being given and the harassment to which he is being subjected. He complains of memory loss, difficulty concentrating and a partial loss of vision.

“Karimov should have already been released,” the press freedom organisation said. “He has been held illegally for more than 10 months. The inhuman and degrading treatment to which he is being subjected is outrageous. It constitutes a serious violation of his freedom and dignity as a human being. The authorities should at the very least let him be examined by an independent doctor as soon as possible.”

Karimov, who is the nephew of President Islam Karimov, disappeared in September of last year after requesting a permit to leave the country. It emerged two weeks later that he had been interned in a psychiatric hospital in Samarkand and that a court in the provincial city of Jizzak, where he lives, had ordered that he should remain there for six months. A panel decided last March that he should stay for a further six months.

Karimov began being harassed in 2005 after writing a series of articles for the news website about local government corruption and the plight of peasants in the Jizzak region.

A friend said that in August 2005 Karimov was told to leave the region and not return until after the Uzbek independence day festivities in order “not to spoil the party.” He refused to comply with the order, which came from Jizzak governor Ubaydulla Yamankulov and the National Security Bureau (NSB).

The following month, on 8 September 2005, a Zhiguli car came close to running him down twice while he was on the sidewalk. The driver was never identified.


Journalist who is president’s nephew forced to spend another six months in psychiatric hospital

Jamshid Karimov, the independent journalist who is President Islam Karimov’s nephew, is to spend another six months in the psychiatric hospital in Samarkand where he had been held against his will since 5 October 2006, the authorities have decided.

Reporters Without Borders condemns this decision, which has not been accompanied by any attempt to justify it, and calls on the authorities to release him.

A court in the provincial city of Jizzakh originally ordered that Karimov should receive treatment in the psychiatric hospital for six months, which were completed in mid-March. The decision to prolong his detention was made public on 13 April, although the hospital’s doctors have admitted that he is “stable, in good health, intelligent and educated.”

Karimov’s colleagues say he was locked up in the hospital because of his journalistic work, and that he would have gone to prison if it had not been for his family ties with the president.


Independent journalist gets six-years prison sentence, colleague committed to psychiatric hospital for six months

An “appalling, Soviet-style crackdown on journalists” is under way in Uzbekistan, Reporters Without Borders said today after learning that an independent journalist, Ulugbek Khaidarov, was sentenced yesterday to six years in prison and another one, Jamshid Karimov, who happens to be President Islam Karimov’s nephew, is to be kept against his will in a psychiatric hospital for six months.

“The Uzbek government has launched a war on foreign and Uzbek journalists in a situation that has not stopped deteriorating since the Andijan uprising,” the press freedom organisation said, calling for the release of both detained journalists.

“We hope the European Union will take account of the press freedom situation when, on 16 and 17 October, it is to reexamine the sanctions adopted against Uzbekistan including its decision to suspend the signing of a cooperation accord,” Reporters Without Borders added.

The six-year prison sentence was passed on Khaidarov yesterday by a court in the provincial city of Jizzakh after it convicted him on a charge of “extortion and blackmail.” Meanwhile, it was reported yesterday that Karimov is to be kept for at least six months in a psychiatric hospital in Samarkand without any explanation being offered.

Both Khaidarov and Karimov are former Uzbekistan correspondents of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, freelance contributors to the independent news websites and and opposition supporters. And both have long been the targets of harassment by President Karimov’s government.

Ever since the Andijan uprising in May 2005, the authorities have been forcing the foreign media out of the country and have been trying to silence the local independent media. As a result, many of the most outspoken journalists have gone into exile.

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