An important press-freedom case is reaching its conclusion in Tajikistan. Independent journalist Makhmadyusuf Ismoilov has been likened by colleagues to Robin Hood for his efforts to expose governmental corruption. Far from seeing him as a heroic figure, officials contend Ismoilov is a calumniator and want him locked up.
Prosecutors have asked a court in northern Sughd Province to give Ismoilov, a reporter for the independent Nuri Zindagi weekly, a 16-year sentence for insulting officials, defamation, and inciting ethnic tensions. The charges stem from a series of articles he wrote on high-level corruption in the province. Sentencing was scheduled for October 3, but the hearing was unexpectedly postponed. A journalist in Sughd said officials appear concerned by the attention the case has received in recent days.
Ismoilov, 51, has been in custody since November 2010. Watchdogs say his trial is designed to silence a government critic. His articles “were well within the bounds of responsible free expression,” Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a September 30 statement.
To read the full story
Konstantin Parshin is a freelance writer based in Tajikistan.