Media watchdog condemns harsh and unjustified sentence against journalist Abdullo Ghurbati
Based in New York, media watch has condemned Tajik journalist and blogger’s Abdullo Ghurbati’s imprisonment and demanded his immediate release.
In a statement issued on October 4 hours after Ghurbati's verdict and sentence were pronounced in Dushanbe, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called the punishment "harsh and unjustified."
“We condemn today’s harsh and unjustified sentence against journalist Abdullo Ghurbati, which appears to be a product of Tajik authorities’ discomfort with the growing popularity of the courageous brand of public-interest citizen journalism practiced by Ghurbati and his colleague Daler Imomali,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Authorities in Tajikistan should refrain from contesting Ghurbati’s appeal, immediately release him, Imomali, and all other journalists currently imprisoned for their work, and stop their campaign of intimidation against the country’s beleaguered independent press.”
In a closed-door trial, a court in Dushanbe’s the Shohmansour district on October 4 found Ghurbati guilty on charges of assaulting and insulting a police officer and participation in a banned extremist group. He was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison. Ghurbati pleaded not guilty and plans to appeal the verdict.
A case of Avazmat Ghurbatov, who is better known by the pseudonym of Abdullo Ghurbati, moved to a court in August.
Recall, two Tajik popular bloggers Abdullo Ghurbati and Daler Imomali were arrested on June 15 after investigating the arbitrary demolition of homes in Dushanbe.
Ghurbati was charged with “violence against a representative of the authorities” while Imomali was accused of “illegal business activities” with his YouTube channel and "false denunciation.”
After a long silence about the grounds for Ghurbati’s detention, the authorities finally announced on July 19 that he was accused of membership in an extremist group and collaborating with it – charges punishable by up to eight years in prison.
Ghurbati was charged with membership in the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), which has been banned in Tajikistan since 2015, when it was designated a terrorist organization.
The same charges – along with others – had been brought against Imomali a few weeks earlier, but the case was classified as confidential, blocking the release of information about his detention.
International media watchdogs have released statement urging Tajik authorities to release independent journalists who have been critical of the government.
Ranked 152nd out of 180 countries in Reporters without Borders (RSF)'s 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Tajikistan has fallen 36 places in the index since 2015.
Established in 1981, CPJ is an independent, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization. Based in New York, the organization accepts no governmental or intergovernmental funding and defends the rights of journalists to report the news safely and without fear of reprisal.