OSCE Says Uzbekistan Made Up Charges Against Journalist
The Organization for Security And Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has called on the Uzbek government to release jailed journalist Salijon Abdurahmanov, saying the charges against him were "made-up, and his trial did not stand the scrutiny of a fair procedure."
In a letter to the Uzbek foreign minister, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media
, Miklos Haraszti, asked the Uzbek government to review an appeal against the 10-year prison sentence handed to Abdurahmanov.
A former RFE/RL Uzbek Service correspondent and a contributor to Voice of America and uznews.net, Abdurahmanov was found guilty on October 10 of possession of marijuana and opium, charges that he denies. When he was arrested on June 7, reportedly on his way to Tashkent to participate in an international seminar on media freedom, the police had brought a film crew to document the finding of a package of narcotics in the trunk of Abdurahmanov's car, according to the OSCE.
In his letter to Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov, Haraszti noted that no reliable evidence had implicated the 58-year-old Abdurahmanov in use or sale of narcotics, that Abdurahmanov had never been accused of a similar offense, and that a blood test found no evidence of drug use, leading the authorities to change the charge of narcotics use to possession with the intent to distribute. Moreover, his fingerprints were not found on the package containing the drugs, and the authorities' questioning focused on Abdurahmanov's journalistic activities, Haraszti wrote.
RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin has also condemned the charges