Arrested Uzbek journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev allowed to meet lawyer
On 14 November, Tulkin Orifzhanov was able to communicate with his client for about an hour at the SIZO (pre-trial custody centre) of the SNB. During the conversation with the lawyer, the journalist said he has no complaints, reports Ozodlik Radio (the Uzbek service of Radio Liberty) with reference to the head of the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan (IGNPU) Surat Ikramov.
According to him, on 13 November, an SNB officer called Orifzhanov and told him that he could meet with his client. "After meeting Bobomurod Abdullayev, the lawyer said there are no signs of torture on the journalist's body. Abdullayev himself told the lawyer that he has no complaints. This is all the information that I have," said Ikramov.
The human rights activist believes the SNB allowed the lawyer to meet Abdullayev, thanks to the pressure of international human rights organisations. "Various rumours have spread due to the fact that a lawyer was not admitted to meet with the journalist. On social networks, they even wrote about the fact that Abdullaev, perhaps, is no longer alive. According to his lawyer, the SNB officers sent Abdullayev's computer for examination, so the investigation dragged on," Ikramov said.
SNB officers had detained 44-year-old Abdullayev on 27 September this year and kept him incommunicado for two days. The court probed his arrest secretly on 1 October. But relatives became aware of this fact only two days later, when SNB officers came to the house of Abdullayev seizing his computer, books, disks, and memory cards.
On 1 October, a closed trial of Abdullayev took place in Tashkent, where he was charged under article 159-4 of the Uzbek Criminal Code ("encroachment on the constitutional order"), which can lead up to 20 years in prison. The journalist is suspected of preparing and disseminating "biased and slanderous materials" under the pseudonym "Usman Haknazar" starting from 2011, recruiting people ready to support the overthrow the current government of Uzbekistan, and developing the programme "Reaping" for a revolution and forcibly overthrowing the country's constitutional system.
For many years, Abdullayev as a sports analyst commented on football competitions; participated as an independent expert in the discussions of Ozodlik Radio. Previously, he was the creator and project manager of Ozod Ovoz/Free Voice, was a correspondent for the British Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), and participated in the media projects of Internews International.
The arrest of Abdullayev had caused a widespread furore. The United Nations, the OSCE, PEN International, Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch spoke in defence of the journalist. Human rights defenders are convinced that the case of Abdullayev is clearly politically motivated.
Further, 28 human rights organisations, members of the international "Platform for Civil Solidarity" (Civicsolidarity.org), issued a statement demanding the immediate release of Abdullayev.