Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned a Tajik court ruling against independent journalist Olga Tutubalina.
In February, a court in Dushanbe found the deputy chief editor of the Asia Plus website guilty of "insulting Tajik intelligentsia."
The court ruled that Tutubalina must pay $6,000 to three plaintiffs who claimed they were insulted by an article written by Tutubalina, even though they were not named in the article.
On April 30, the Dushanbe City Court upheld the court decision.
HRW's Central Asia researcher Steve Swerdlow
urged the Tajik government on June 1 to stop intimidating journalists and "censor legitimate speech by misusing defamation laws and claims for monetary damages."
Swerdlow described Asia Plus as one of few remaining independent news outlets in Tajikistan.
Tutubalina's lawyers have said they would appeal the court's latest decision in Tajikistan's Supreme Court.
With HRW statement