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Three Uzbek Journalists, Entrepreneur Sentenced On Libel Charges


The journalists faced charges over the video they shot at blogger Otabek Sattoriy's trial.

Three Uzbek journalists and a private businesswoman have been sentenced on charges of libel and disobeying the authorities.

The Supreme Court said on November 3 that a lower court in the southern region of Qashqadaryo sentenced the same day Elyorbek Tojiboev, a correspondent with the Effect.uz website, to three years in a colony settlement.

In the tightly controlled former Soviet republic, decisions by regional courts are very often made public by the Supreme Court.

A colony settlement is a dormitory-like penitentiary located near an industrial facility where convicts work alongside the general public.

Two other journalists with Effect.uz, Akbar Nurimbetov and Hamidjon Ahmedov, were handed parole-like sentences of three and and 2 1/2 years, respectively.

Another defendant in the case, businesswoman Guzal Khudoyorova, was sentenced to two years of restricted freedom.

The four were found guilty of libel, insulting representatives of public authorities, and disobeying the authorities.

The charges against the journalists and Khudoyorova stemmed from a video the reporters shot in January at the trial of blogger Otabek Sattoriy, where a judge and several journalists engaged in an argument regarding the legality of the media presence in court.

After the journalists published the video, the region's Judges Councils filed a lawsuit against the reporters and Khudoyorova, who had been present in court backing the journalists' demand that they had a right to cover the trial of Sattoriy.

The Judges Council accused the four of insulting the judge and bailiffs, disobeying an official order to leave the courtroom, and spreading untruthful information about the authorities by publishing the video.

It is not known how the reporters and Khudoyorova pleaded.

In June, several journalists from Effect.uz were beaten in the eastern city of Andijon by the son of the city council's chairman.

In May, a court in the southern Surxondaryo region sentenced Sattoriy, who has been known for reports critical of local government, to 6 1/2 years in prison on what he and rights groups called "trumped-up" extortion and slander charges.

Sattoriy rejected the charges as politically motivated.

Uzbekistan is ranked 157th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

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