20 April 2005 -- Police in Uzbekistan have announced the arrest of a journalist on charges of anti-constitutional activity.
A police spokesman said yesterday that Sabirjan Yakubov had been arrested on 11 April for "attacks on the constitutional order," but offered no further details.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists quoted Yakubov's colleagues at the independent "Hurriyat" newspaper as saying the charges against him are political.
They point to a series of articles the 22-year-old wrote on Islam and the recent peaceful revolution in Ukraine.
In Washington, the State Department said it "will be following this case closely." Spokesman Adam Ereli said U.S. diplomats in Uzbekistan had urged Uzbek authorities to ensure "due process and fair and humane treatment for Mr. Yakubov."
The Paris-based media rights group, Reporters Without Borders, is circulating a petition to draw attention to the Yakubov case. A spokesman with the group, Benjamin Joyeux, explains.
"We want everybody to know the name of Yakubov, and these stupid accusations by the Uzbek authorities," Joyeux said. "We need to give the information to the people of this country [Uzbekistan] and also in Europe."
The Committee to Protect Journalists says four reporters were serving prison terms in Uzbek jails in 2004. Human rights groups say some 6,000 Uzbeks have been imprisoned for political or religious dissent as Uzbek President Islam Karimov tolerates no opposition.