14 august 2018

Central Asia news

Uzbek Blogger Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Critical Posts

13.02.2018 13:16 msk

Fergananews


Akrom Malikov. Photo from Facebook of Malohat Eshankulova
In Uzbekistan, blogger Akrom Malikov, 28, has been sentenced to six years in prison. An employee of the Institute of Manuscripts of the Academy of Sciences, he published posts and articles criticizing the authorities on the website of the opposition People's Movement of Uzbekistan (NDU), Tashkent-based journalist and human rights activist Malohat Eshankulova wrote her Facebook page.

According to her, the Tashkent Regional Criminal Court found Malikov guilty of "infringements on the constitutional system of the Republic of Uzbekistan," "production or distribution of materials containing threats to public security and public order," and the "creation, leadership, participation in religious extremist, separatist, fundamentalist or other prohibited organizations". He was convicted in January. Eshankulova published an appeal to President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Facebook on February 06, asking him to help free the young scientist.

As Fergana News reported, Uzbekistan’s Security Service (SNB) detained Malikov on July 22, 2016, shortly before the death of President Islam Karimov. At the time, similar critical posts were behind the arrest, although they were written by a certain Abdulloh Nusrat, who the authorities believed to be Malikov in reality. Relatives of the detainee were told “not to make a fuss about” the arrest promising that he would soon be released.

Malikov's case caught Eshankulova’ attention after reports emerged that the SNB put him face-to-face with journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev at the end of September 2017. "He was facing hefty charges of the Criminal Code, and we cannot remain silent now," a relative of Malikov said.

The journalist told Ozodlik Radio that she had located the house of Malikov and that his mother only reluctantly agreed to talk to her since her lawyer had advised not to speak about the fate of her son with anyone. But Eshankulova found out that Malikov was convicted and even saw the verdict the Tashkent Regional Criminal Court handed down to him. According to the conviction, the main reason for Malikov's arrest were his connections with the head of the NDU, Muhammad Salih, who remains in exile.

Malikov's mother said that the lawyers she hired were not admitted to the case and state attorneys defended her son in court.

"The lawyer and the investigators were quite clear that Akrom Malikov's parents should not talk about his fate to the press, especially to the Western media. His mother said that 'we were told not to report anything to journalists because he can be tortured in prison! The prosecutor demanded 12 years [in prison] but because we did not make any trouble, he (Malikov) was given six years in prison.' But, based on many years of my human rights activity, I know that the silence of relatives will not save the young life of the convict. I discovered that Akrom is in one of the prisons in Navoi now and is engaged in packing lime," Eshankulova told Ozodlik Radio.

On February 08, reports emerged that SNB officers investigating Bobomurod Abdullayev, who had equally been accused of colluding with NDU leader Salih and the dissemination of “tendentious and slanderous materials” on the Internet, were suspended from his case after torture allegations.

Earlier, in January 2018, Shavkat Mirziyoyev harshly criticized the SNB and dismissed the head of the special service, Rustam Inoyatov.

Fergana News Agency