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Blogger Flees Uzbekistan After Spending Weeks In Involuntary Psychiatric Care

Shabnam (Nafosat) Ollashukurova's 3-year-old twin daughters are still in Uzbekistan, living with their grandmother.

An Uzbek blogger who spent weeks in involuntary psychiatric care after extensively covering alleged corruption and abuse among politicians has fled the country.

Nafosat Olloshukurova, known on Facebook as Shabnam Olloshukurova, told RFE/RL in a telephone interview on January 20 that she planned to ask for political asylum in an unnamed Western state.

In September, Olloshukurova was put under administrative arrest in the western Khorezm region for alleged violations including petty hooliganism and participating in unauthorized assemblies.

She had reportedly been documenting a march by a journalist and poet to petition the authorities to drop a case against him.

Olloshukurova told RFE/RL that police tortured her and threatened to rape her with a bottle in an attempt to force her to testify that exiled opposition figures were behind the march.

Days after she began serving her sentence, a court ordered that Olloshukurova be placed in a regional psychiatric center, where she was kept incommunicado for almost three months.

Olloshukurova, who was released in late December, said she had to leave Uzbekistan after the local authorities threatened to register her at a psychiatric clinic as an unstable person.

She expressed thanks to the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent; the head of the Ezgulik human rights group, Abdurakhman Tashanov; and lawyer Umid Davletov for their support.

Olloshukurova's 3-year-old twin daughters are staying with the blogger's mother in Tashkent.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said in October that the Uzbek authorities "should not resort to the use of totalitarian practices like forced confinement of journalists in a psychiatric ward."