(Prague, Czech Republic--May 13, 2008)
In Uzbekistan, former RFE/RL journalist Nosir Zokirov was fined today after being held by authorities for two days, accused of "violating public order." In 2005, Zokirov was the first journalist to report on the events in Andijon, where troops loyal to Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov opened fire on a crowd of protestors, killing around 700 people, including women and children.
"It's no coincidence that Zokirov is being harassed by Uzbek authorities on the third anniversary of Andijon," says RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin. "It's clear that this week's arrest is baseless and simply the latest attempt by the Karimov government to intimidate those who seek to bring uncensored information to the people of Uzbekistan."
In 2005, after his reports on Andijon, Zokirov was arrested by the Uzbek government and spent six months in prison. Since then, he has been repeatedly harassed by police and Zokirov claims he is under regular police surveillance. On Saturday, authorities lured Zokirov to a police station in Namangan by arresting his son on specious charges that were dropped the same day. His son was released, but Zokirov was arrested and spent two days in jail before being released and forced to pay a fine.
RFE/RL's Uzbek Service broadcasts six hours of programming a day to Uzbekistan via shortwave, medium wave and satellite broadcasts. Programming is also available online at www.ozodlik.org
. English-language news from Uzbekistan can be found on the RFE/RL website at www.rferl.org