The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is calling on the Uzbek authorities to release a jailed blogger the rights group says faces trumped-up charges for his coverage of corruption.
Otabek Sattoriy was detained by a group of plainclothes police on January 29 in the southern city of Termez on allegations of extortion. He is currently in pretrial detention and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
"Authorities in Uzbekistan should immediately release blogger Otabek Sattoriy and drop the trumped-up charges against him," Gulnoza Said, CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, said on February 8.
"The persecution of bloggers and citizen journalists for their reporting on corruption violates their constitutional rights. Journalists in Uzbekistan should be able to do their jobs without a fear of being hit with retaliatory charges," she added.
The 40-year-old journalist is known for harshly criticizing the region's governor, Tora Bobolov, through the video blog Halq Fikiri (People's Opinion) streamed on his Telegram and YouTube channels.
In one of his recent postings, Sattoriy openly accused the local government of launching fabricated criminal cases against bloggers and vowed to continue to raise the issue of corruption among officials despite the "crackdown."
CPJ reported that Sattoriy was accused of extorting a local businessman who had broken the blogger's phone during an argument over filming a report about high prices at a local market.
The businessman reportedly later contacted Sattoriy and offered to replace the broken phone, but when the phone was exchanged police detained the blogger and accused him of extorting the man to get the phone, CPJ said, citing the blogger's lawyer.