Former RFE/RL Freelancer in Jeopardy in Uzbek Prison
The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders
(RSF) has reported that Solijan Abdurakhmanov's health has deteriorated in recent months and that the journalist is now suffering a stomach ulcer.
RSF cites reporting from UzNews.net, an independent on-line news agency, that Abdurakhmanov was recently transferred to a prison hospital in Tashkent, Uzbekistan's capital, for the second time since February.
In a statement issued yesterday, RSF said, “We are extremely worried about Abdurakhmanov. After five years in prison in appalling conditions, this 63-year-old man’s continuing detention is criminal. We hold the prison authorities responsible for his fate and we urge them to provide a complete report on his state of health without delay."
Abdurakhmanov was one of three political prisoners named in a letter
signed by 12 U.S. Senators and sent to Uzbek President Islam Karimov on June 26 calling on Karimov to "immediately and unconditionally" release Abdurakhmanov, Dilmurod Saidov and human rights advocate Akzam Turgunov. The letter expresses concern about their health and treatment, and refers to their detentions as "appear[ing] to be politically motivated."
Inspectors from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sought to visit Abdurakhmanov in prison on two occasions in 2012 but were reportedly thwarted. UzNews
.net reported that he was hidden from inspectors during one visit, and that an imposter purporting to be Abdurakhmanov was presented to the ICRC during a second visit.
reported today that Ergashbay Rakhimov, who sought to advocate on Abdurakhmanov's behalf, was arrested in Uzbekistan on June 9 on charges of "defamation."
is a native of Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic in western Uzbekistan. He wrote for the Voice of America and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. He worked for RFE/RL as a correspondent until 2005, when the massacre in Andijon forced RFE/RL to close its Tashkent bureau.
Amnesty International designated Abdurakhmanov a prisoner of conscience in 2008.