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VOA Freelancer In Uzbekistan Loses Appeal

Abdumalik Boboev
Abdumalik Boboev
Tashkent city court has upheld a conviction for slander against a reporter for the U.S.-funded radio station Voice of America (VOA), RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Abdumalik Boboev, a freelancer for VOA's Uzbek Service, was found guilty last month of slander and distributing materials that pose a threat to public order. He was fined the equivalent of about $10,000.

"During today's hearing I stressed again that I did nothing wrong," Boboev told RFE/RL. "As a journalist I wrote critical articles and those articles never insulted, slandered, or posed a threat to public security. But they did not take this into consideration and left the previous decision of the court unchanged."

Robert Blake, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, met with Uzbek Ambassador to the United States Ilham Nematov on November 13 in Washington. He reportedly briefed the ambassador about his meeting with Boboev earlier this week in Uzbekistan.

In a statement on November 12 following the court decision, the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent said it remained concerned about the state of media freedom in Uzbekistan.

"Using the criminal justice system to punish journalists for freely expressed views is contrary to Uzbekistan's constitution and international obligations, and has a chilling effect on journalists throughout the country," the statement said.

Boboev, 41, was among several journalists summoned by the Prosecutor-General's Office last year for questioning about alleged "unaccredited" journalistic activities.