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Interview: Karimova House-Arrest Pics Show 'What Happens Every Day'


Locksley Ryan, Gulnara Karimova's London-based spokesman, discusses his recent release of photographs showing the Uzbek president's daughter under house arrest.

Interview conducted by RFE/RL Uzbek Service correspondent Farruh Yusupov.

RFE/RL: Have you been in contact with Gulnara Karimova recently?

Locksley Ryan: You could imagine trying to get information out is very, very difficult. Making contact is extremely difficult. But we have a network of friends that provide us with information.

RFE/RL: A few days ago photos emerged showing Gulnara Karimova with security guards outside her home. When were the pictures taken?

Ryan: What the pictures depict is what happens every day -- the guards are there 24 hours each day of the week. Whenever she goes out the door -- whether to get some fresh air or, for that matter, to ask for more food -- this is what happens. I would not tell you when they were taken, but they are recent -- [taken] over the last couple of weeks. Obviously, we don't want to endanger the photographer.

RFE/RL: How was the photographer able to take the photos? Some of our listeners are saying that the photos were staged.

Ryan: Look at her face and tell me that that's not absolute distress that she is under, being in isolation, not speaking to anyone month after month after month. I think the picture itself answers that question.

RFE/RL: Earlier this month Uzbek authorities opened a criminal investigation against a G. Karimova. Do you know anything about that?

Ryan: Is it coincidental that this prosecution allegedly is investigating events suddenly, just as the electioneering starts? [Parliamentary elections will take place in December, followed by a presidential election in the first half of 2015.]

She's been under house arrest since February and yet here we are in September before anything about an investigation is announced and just happens to coincide with the election timetable.

RFE/RL: The prosecutor conducting an ongoing money-laundering investigation in Sweden has reportedly contacted the Uzbek authorities asking for access to Karimova, but did not receive a response.

Ryan: At the moment, her statement is very clear that she is completely innocent of any charges, but whether anyone will believe that is a matter for them. The only way to settle this is to let her go to court and [for] a judge [to] decide. It [must be] an independent court, it's not going to work in Uzbekistan.

RFE/RL: You have said that that Karimova and her daughter are in poor health.

Ryan: When the tapes, the recordings were circulated [audio recordings of Karimova discussing her house arrest that were obtained by the BBC and published on August 21], the day after that everyone in the house was removed. And now we know that food is rarely delivered. So the situation is actually getting worse.

RFE/RL: We have an unconfirmed report that U.S. Embassy staff has had little contact with Karimova and her daughter, who is an American citizen. Is the U.S. Embassy doing enough?

Ryan: I would be very pleased if the U.S. ambassador [in Uzbekistan] went to see what was going on and find out the conditions of an American citizen residing in a house which has no food, she can't have education, and is looking increasingly perilous. That's a matter for the American ambassador to decide on, but I would be delighted if the went [to check].

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