20 november 2017

Central Asia news

Uzbek authorities prevent lawyers from defending journalist Abdullayev

05.11.2017 01:54 msk

Ferghana


Bobomurod Abdullayev
The National Security Service of Uzbekistan (SNB) will not allow the lawyers for journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev, whom the Uzbek authorities have accused of staging a coup, to participate in his criminal case. The SNB also prevented the lawyers from seeing their client, who is in the SNB's custody, the press service of the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan reports.

In the beginning of October, lawyer Munozhat Parpieva applied several times for a warrant to defend Abdullayev to Nodir Turakulov, a senior investigator at the SNB, but received no reply. After another appeal, Alexander Veselov, the investigator, met with the lawyer and promised to allow her to participate in the criminal case on 31 October. On the same day, the lawyer planned to meet her client, but neither of these happened. Parpieva appealed against the illegal actions of investigators in the Prosecutor General's Office, and on 2 November Alisher Mirasilov, Deputy Prosecutor General, met with her, promising to respond to the complaint within 10-15 days.

Another of Abdullayev’s lawyers, Tulkun Arifjanov, handed investigator Veselov an order to represent the journalist on 1 November. Veselov assured that he would invite Arifjanov to "investigate" in three or four days.

Abdullayev has another lawyer, who the state appointed. Apparently, according to human rights activists, the state counselor is formally involved in the case. The mother of the journalist, Gavharzhon Madaminova, contacted him and asked about her son's health. The lawyer said that last time he had seen Abdullayev was a month ago.

Meanwhile, according to the human rights activists, the circle of defendants in the case of the journalist has been expanding. A reliable source told the activists that the authorities started criminal proceedings against Islam Holboy, who was familiar with Abdullayev, and is a member of the opposition Erk party and the People's Movement of Uzbekistan. He is in Turkey at present. It is still unknown what Islam Holboy has been charged with.

At the same time, according to the source, the SNB officers came to the house of Islam Holboy in the Karakul district of the Bukhara region and told his sister and son that they are investigating him based upon the "Encroachment on the Constitutional System of the Republic of Uzbekistan" of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan.

SNB officers detained 44-year-old Bobomurod Abdullayev on 27 September 2017 and kept him incommunicado for two days. The court probed his arrest secretly on 1 October. By 10 October, Abdullaev was to stand trial, charged as an accused, or be released from custody.

There is no information about the state of his health or regarding the conditions in which the authorities keep him. Surat Ikramov said that, initially, the well-known Tashkent lawyer Munozhat Parpieva took over the defence of Abdullayev, but after SNB investigators exerted pressure on the journalist's spouse, she was forced to abandon Parpieva's services. Now the investigation brought in a state counsel to defend the journalist.

Bobomurod Abdullayev is an independent journalist. Over the years, as a sports columnist, he commented on football competitions, and participated as an independent expert in discussions on Ozodlik Radio - the Uzbek service of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty. Previously, he was the creator and project manager of Ozod Ovoz / Free Voice, a correspondent for Ferghana News, the British Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), and participated in media projects for Internews International.

On October 10, SNB brought three people to its detention centre (SIZO) due to the case of independent journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev. Akrom Malikov, a 27-year-old employee of the Institute of Manuscripts of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan, after articles criticising the current government and signed by Abdulloh Nusrat appeared on the Internet on 22 July 2016: the investigation believes that this is Malikov's nickname. The other two detainees in SNB custody are businessmen Ravshanbek Salayev and Shavkatjon Olloyorov. As with Abdullayev, they are natives of the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan. The court's decision to arrest an independent journalist, named both of them.

The arrest of Abdullayev caused a wide-spread response. The UN, the OSCE, PEN International, Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch spoke in defence of the journalist.

Further, 28 human rights organisations, members of the international "Platform for Civil Solidarity" (Civicsolidarity.org), issued a statement demanding the immediate release of Bobomurod Abdullayev.

Fergana News Agency