Groups Call for Tajikistan to Release Jailed Reporter

Posted July 7th, 2011 at 12:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is calling on Tajikistan to release jailed BBC reporter Urunboi Usmonov. The 59-year-old Usmonov was detained June 13 on charges of belonging to a banned extremist organization, the radical Islamic movement Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

But an OSCE statement says it believes Usmonov's arrest is an attempt to quash reporting on sensitive issues.

Rights organization Amnesty International says the 10-year BBC employee is being held solely for his writing work. Amnesty says family members reported that Usmonov appeared to have been tortured or mistreated while in detention.

Amnesty said it considers Usmonov a prisoner of conscience and he should be released immediately and unconditionally. It called for a prompt and thorough investigation into the torture allegations to bring those responsible to justice.

Tajik security officials said Wednesday that despite earlier allegations made by the Interior Ministry, Usmonov is not accused of being a Hizb-ut-Tahrir member, but their investigation is focusing on his involvement with the organization and on failing to inform authorities of his contacts with it.