March 26, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Uzbekistan's Prosecutor-General's Office has opened criminal proceedings against an Uzbek reporter working for the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reported.
Natalia Bushueva's lawyer, Sukhrob Ismalov, today said she is accused of operating without a license from the Foreign Ministry and tax evasion. Ismalov said she could face up to three years in prison.
Bushueva's mother said she had not seen her daughter for two days.
Elsa Vidal, from the Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders, told RFE/RL that Bushueva's case underlines the worsening of press freedom in Uzbekistan.
"We are very worried about her situation," Vidal said. "And we would like to underline [that] in general, the situation of press freedom in Uzbekistan is very, very looming and is worsening. So we would like to see an improvement of the situation as soon as possible."
In 2005, the BBC World Service closed its Tashkent bureau, citing official harassment, while RFE/RL's operations in the country were shut down by Uzbek authorities.
(with material from Reuters, AFP, Interfax)