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Polish Journalist Pikulicka-Wilczewska Banned From Entering Uzbekistan

Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska (file photo)
Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska (file photo)

An independent Polish journalist who earlier this year accused an Uzbek Foreign Ministry official of sexual harassment and pressuring her to write positive articles about the country, says she has been banned from entering the Central Asian state for unspecified reasons.

Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska tweeted on November 8 that she was stranded at a checkpoint along the Uzbek-Kazakh border, after Uzbek border guards refused to allow her to enter the country.

"I came to Uzbekistan over three years ago hoping that change was possible. I'm leaving convinced that under current government no systemic change will ever take place," Pikulicka-Wilczewska wrote on Twitter, questioning democratic reforms promised by Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev, who was reelected last month.

The Uzbek government has been trying for some time to limit the activities of Pikulicka-Wilczewska.

Earlier in June, Uzbek authorities reluctantly extended the journalist's accreditation after international rights and media groups raised concerns over the issue.

In early February, the Uzbek Foreign Ministry officially apologized to Pikulicka-Wilczewska, a former Al-Jazeera correspondent who also worked for The Guardian and Eurasianet, for the behavior of a ministry employee whom the journalist publicly accused of sexual harassment and pressuring her to write positive articles about the tightly controlled former Soviet republic.

The situation around the Polish journalist and ongoing crackdown on bloggers and independent reporters have put under question the democratization reforms Mirziyoev announced after he took over following the death of his authoritarian predecessor, Islam Karimov, in 2016.

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

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