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Uzbekistan's Prosecutor-General's Office interrogated two independent journalists today in Tashkent, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

The prosecutor's office "invited" several journalists who have worked or currently work for foreign media outlets to come for meetings, including Basil Markov, Sid Yanishev, Marina Kozlova, and former RFE/RL correspondent Khusnitdin Kutbitdinov.

Yanishev and Kutbitdinov held their meetings today. Markov and Kozlova have said they will refuse to attend such a meeting unless they are ordered to do so.

Yanishev told RFE/RL that Bahram Nurmatov, the assistant to Tashkent's prosecutor-general, told him the interrogation was initiated after National Security Service and Foreign Ministry files on Yanishev's activities were sent to the prosecutor's office.

Yanishev said he was shown his file and was interrogated about his activities. He said he was questioned about which international conferences he had attended, foreign payments he received, and any contact with foreign embassies.

Yanishev said he was asked to sign an explanatory note at the end of the questioning. He said that no charges were officially brought against him.

Kutbitdinov told RFE/RL that Nurmatov told him there were reports that he had provided "discrediting information" to foreign websites using pseudonyms. Kutbitdinov said told Nurmatov he was unfamiliar with the pseudonyms and did not write any of the information that was shown to him.

Galima Bukharbaeva, an independent Uzbek journalist and editor of who lives in exile in Europe, told RFE/RL that the interrogation procedure at the prosecutor's office is a typical practice used by the Uzbek government to intimidate journalists in Uzbekistan.
Two men hide from riot policemen behind a trash bin during clashes in Tehran on December 27.
Nongovernmental groups targeted on a blacklist announced recently by Iranian authorities who cited "seditious" activities have protested Tehran's most recent clampdown.

The New York-based democracy-building group Open Society Institute has said in a statement that it is "deeply troubled" by Iran's decision to ban cooperation with dozens of international organizations.

Iran's Intelligence Ministry on January 4 accused some 60 foreign organizations and media outlets -- including the Open Society Institute and RFE/RL's Radio Farda -- of being involved in a "soft war" in Iran and banned citizens from cooperating with them.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has also said that Iran "has recovered its status as the world's biggest prison state for the media."

RSF says there are 42 journalists currently detained in the country, where authorities have carried out mass arrests and imposed harsh curbs on the media and critics since a fiercely disputed presidential election in June.

compiled from agency reports

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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