The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is urging Tajikistan to immediately release independent journalist Daler Sharifov from custody, drop the "absurd" incitement charges against him, and allow him to continue his reporting.
"Tajik officials have already driven nearly all independent voices out of the country, so this prosecution is a clear attempt to silence ahead of elections one of the few media critics that remain," Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, said in a statement on February 6.
Sharifov, who often writes about domestic politics and is known for his criticism of Tajikistan’s authorities, has been in custody since January 28, relatives told RFE/RL.
Police also searched his apartment in the capital, Dushanbe, and confiscated a computer and several books.
A court ruled on January 30 to place the 32-year-old journalist in pretrial detention for two months, according to his lawyer, Abdurahmon Sharifov, who is no relation.
The Prosecutor-General's Office later announced that Sharifov had been charged with inciting ethnic, racial, and religious hatred.
The charges stemmed from "more than 200 articles and commentaries containing extremist content" Sharifov published between 2013 and 2019, it said.
He could be jailed for up to five years if found guilty.