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Uzbekistan13 June 2008

Government TV stations threaten Radio Free Europe

Reporters Without Borders voiced alarm today about a programme broadcast by state television stations Namangan TV and Ferghana TV on 10 June that attacked Radio Free Europe (RFE), a US-funded international radio station based in Prague, and gave the addresses of its Uzbek correspondents and the schools attended by their children.

“We are extremely disturbed by this smear campaign against RFE’s Uzbek correspondents,” the organisation said. “Journalist Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov’s recent arrest, the farce of the so-called International Forum on the Media and now this threat to RFE’s correspondents and their families show that the press freedom situation is very worrying in Uzbekistan.”

Lasting more than an hour and broadcast several times by the two government TV stations, the programme called RFE’s correspondents “traitors” and gave their names and addresses as well as the addresses of their children’s schools. The correspondents reacted by describing this as a “direct threat” to the safety of their families.

The head of RFE’s Prague-based Uzbek service said the former head of RFE’s Tashkent bureau appeared in the programme and criticised his former colleagues. The authorities have in the past pressured human rights activists into attacking their colleagues in a similar manner.

RFE’s journalists said the smear campaign recalled the case of Alisher Sayipov, the founder of the newspaper Sayasat, who was branded as a “traitor” on Namangan TV a week before his murder last October.

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