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Media Watchdog Urges EU To Be 'Tough' On Uzbekistan

Umida Niyazova (undated) (Courtesy Photo) April 11, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The international press-freedom organization Reporters Without Borders has urged the European Union to "be tougher" with Uzbekistan after charges were brought against independent journalist Umida Niyazova.

According to Niyazova's brother, she has been charged with smuggling, crossing the border illegally, accepting money from abroad, and working against the government.

In a statement issued today, Reporters Without Borders called the decision "a slap in the face" that confirms "President Islam Karimov's contempt for human rights."

The Paris-based group urged the EU to "display greater firmness" next month, when it examines the sanctions taken against the Uzbek government following violence in the eastern city of Andijon in May 2005.

Niyazova was detained crossing into Uzbekistan from Kyrgyzstan in December 2006. She was interviewing family members of victims of the Andijon violence that left at least 189 people dead.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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