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Uzbekistan11 June 2008

Journalist arrested on trumped-up drug charge in western region

Reporters Without Borders has just learned that journalist and human rights activist Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov is being held in the western autonomous region of Karakalpakstan on a drug possession charge which fellow journalists believe was trumped up.

A criminal court in the regional capital of Nukus ordered him placed in pre-trial detention today but the exact date of his arrest is not yet known. According to an unconfirmed report, he was arrested on 7 June, two days before the start of a government-run seminar in Tashkent on press freedom.

“We condemn Abdurakhmanov’s arrest just as the authorities were organising a conference on media freedom in Tashkent,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is proof of the cynicism of a government that continues to jail journalists and human rights activists. As in previous cases, the drug charge seems to be just a pretext for portraying a prisoner of conscience as an ordinary detainee.”

The regional director of the Committee for the Protection of Human Rights in Karakalpakstan, Abdurakhmanov is also a reporter for independent news websites. His colleagues suspect that the drug possession charge was fabricated and the real reason for his arrest was his journalistic activities.

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