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Uzbek Poet Gets Suspended Prison Term For Importing 'Banned' Books

Uzbek poet and blogger Mahmud Rajab
Uzbek poet and blogger Mahmud Rajab

KHOREZM, Uzbekistan -- A court in Uzbekistan’s western region of Khorezm has handed a 27-month suspended prison sentence to poet and blogger Mahmud Rajab for smuggling and organizing mass disorder.

The Khorezm regional court on October 18 handed down the sentence on the same day it found Rajab guilty.

Rajab was charged with smuggling after border guards confiscated several books from him upon his arrival from Turkey in April. Investigators said the books were banned in Uzbekistan and launched a probe against Rajab.

In September, Rajab and dozens of his supporters started a protest march to Tashkent where they intended to meet with the interior minister and demand he closes the case.

Police stopped the march and arrested Rajab and about 20 of his relatives and supporters, all of whom were found guilty of violating regulations for holding public events and sentenced to 10 days in jail each.

After serving her 10-day jail term, one of Rajab's supporters, English teacher and blogger Nasofat Olloshukurova, was forcibly placed into a psychiatric clinic in Khorezm.

On October 8, the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the Uzbek authorities' move to place Olloshukurova in the psychiatric clinic and demanded her immediate release.

She is still being held in the Khorezm Regional Psychiatric Center.