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Daler Sharifov speaks during an interview with RFERL on January 30.

Tajikistan's state prosecutor has confirmed that it detained independent journalist Daler Sharifov on extremism charges.

The Dushanbe-based journalist, who often writes about domestic politics and is known for his criticism of Tajik authorities, has been in custody since January 28, relatives told RFE/RL.

Sharifov's lawyer, Abdurahmon Sharifov, who is no relation, told RFE/RL earlier that a court had ruled on January 30 to place the 32-year-old journalist in pretrial detention for two months, saying he was suspected of "inciting ethnic, racial, and religious discord."

The Prosecutor-General's Office said in a press statement that Sharifov was detained over his publication of "more than 200 articles and commentaries containing extremist content" between 2013 and 2019, AFP reported on February 2.

The statement issued late on February 1 also said that Sharifov had published 100 copies of an unidentified text allegedly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which was banned in Tajikistan in 2006.

Sharifov could face five years in prison if found guilty of the charges.

Sharifov's wife, Saida Kurbonova, told RFE/RL on January 31 that her husband had been called in by the authorities for questioning several times in the past, but had been released. She said she was not aware of the nature of the conversations.

This time, she said, he did not receive a summons and was duped into an interrogation on January 28 at the State Security Committee.

On January 27, police searched Sharifov's apartment in Dushanbe and confiscated a computer and several books.

Kurbonova said all his Arabic-language books were taken.

Some in the Tajik media have suggested that Sharifov's detention is a blow to freedom of speech in the country, where journalists often face pressure from the authorities.

Tajikistan, whose government controls all things religious in the mostly Muslim country, is preparing to hold parliamentary elections in March and presidential elections in November.

With reporting by AFP
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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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