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Uzbek Photographer To Appeal Guilty Verdict

Umida Ahmedova (center) awaits the verdict outside the court building in Tashkent.
TASHKENT -- Uzbek photographer Umida Ahmedova said today she would appeal the guilty verdict against her for defamation, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Ahmedova, 54, was found guilty by a Tashkent court of portraying her country as "backward" for a collection of photographs and a documentary depicting the daily struggles of people in rural Uzbekistan.

Uzbek officials had ruled the photographs and documentary were "insulting" and "damaging to the country's image."

The court granted Ahmedova amnesty after the verdict was announced. She could have been sentenced to six months in prison or up to two years in a labor camp.

Ahmedova told RFE/RL that although she left the courtroom a free woman, she did not do anything wrong and will therefore appeal the verdict.

An award-winning photographer, Ahmedova's projects were financed by the Swiss Embassy in Tashkent.

Ahmedova was initially arrested and charged on December 16. Last month, authorities presented Ahmedova's lawyer with the findings of an Uzbek panel of experts who studied her film and photos.

The panel accused Ahmedova of portraying Uzbek people's lives and their traditions in a negative light, giving the impression that Uzbeks are "barbarians" living in the Middle Ages.