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Karimova's Son Calls For Her Right To Defend Herself

A file photo of Gulnara Karimova, dated 2010.
A file photo of Gulnara Karimova, dated 2010.

The son of Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of the late longtime Uzbek President Islam Karimov, has called for her legal right to fight the charges against her in court.

The son, whose name is also Islam Karimov, made the call after Uzbek prosecutors said late last month that Karimova was in custody following a 2015 conviction and faces additional charges in a continuing investigation.

The statement marked the first time authorities in the tightly controlled Central Asian country have revealed details about the status of Karimova, who has long been rumored to be under strict house arrest in the capital, Tashkent.

"Give my mother a right to defend herself," Islam Karimov said in an interview with the BBC released on August 1.

"They're so scared of my mother, not only her voice, her opinion, [but also] the information she has," he said.

Islam Karimov, who lives in London, also said that his mother was told she only remained alive because of computer files she removed from Uzbekistan before her disappearance.

"If she comes out for 10 minutes and talks, the downfall of so many people in the government will be guaranteed -- and that's what they're scared of," he said.

Financial-Crimes Probe

Karimova, 45, was once a high-profile socialite, fashion designer, pop singer, and ambassador to United Nations agencies in Geneva who was seen as a potential successor to her father, the autocrat who ruled for a quarter-century.

But she vanished from sight as she found herself at the center of a financial-crimes probe in Uzbekistan in which many of her associates have been jailed.

The Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office said in a July 28 statement that Karimova was sentenced to five years of "restricted freedom" in 2015 after she and several associates were convicted of crimes, including extortion, embezzlement, and tax evasion.

Karimova has additionally been charged with several other crimes, including financial misdeeds, forgery, and money laundering, and the investigation continues, the statement said.

Multiple previous reports have indicated she has been under house arrest since 2014.

The Prosecutor-General's Office said it is seeking to impound $1.5 billion worth of assets owned by Karimova outside Uzbekistan.

Health Concerns

It alleged that Karimova illegally obtained assets worth more than $590 million and received some $870 million in kickbacks.
Health Concerns

The statement came amid steps by President Shavkat Mirziyaev, who replaced Karimov after his death was announced in September and was subsequently elected, to decrease the country's isolation.

In the absence of official information about Karimova's fate, rumors and other unsubstantiated reports have swirled for years.

Neither Karimova nor her children were present at her father's funeral in September.

In December, Karimova's son told the BBC his mother was being held in a "two-to-three room annex" to her main property in Tashkent.

Islam Karimov said that Karimova was sane -- but voiced concern about her health after what he said was years of isolation "without any even basic human rights."

With reporting by the BBC
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