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Uzbek Photographer Charged With Defamation

Uzbek photographer Umida Ahmedova
Uzbek photographer Umida Ahmedova
A prominent Uzbek photographer/videographer has been charged with defamation and damaging the country's image because of the content of her photos and videos, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Umida Ahmedova, 54, took a series of photos and video at obscure Uzbek villages that she used for two documentaries in a project sponsored by the Swiss Embassy in Tashkent.

Ahmedova told RFE/RL that Uzbek officials disapprove of her photos used in the documentaries "The Burden Of Virginity" and "Customs Of Men And Women," which focus on poverty and gender inequality in Uzbekistan.

Ahmedova, who has contributed photographs to RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, said the charges against her were "groundless" and "absurd."

Tashkent police investigator Nodir Ahmadjonov told RFE/RL that experts in the Prosecutor-General's Office found her photos and videos to be defamatory and insulting.

The Uzbek Communication and Information Agency initiated the case against Ahmedova, who has been ordered not to leave Uzbekistan while an investigation is carried out.

If found guilty, Ahmedova could face a fine and be sentenced to up to two years in a labor camp or up to six months in prison.

Ahmadjonov added that Ahmedova could be released under an amnesty without being acquitted.

Ahmedova's films were shown at the One World film festival in Prague in 2006, where they were popular with audiences.