Vienna, 5 October 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was relieved to learn that two Uzbekistan activists and journalists have been released from incarceration.
On 4 October, it was revealed that Azam Farmonov, a human rights activist jailed in 2006, was finally set free after having served eleven and a half years in prison. According to authorities, Farmonov was released from the Zhaslyk prison “two and a half years ahead of schedule”. The activist was accused under Article 165 of the Criminal Code in 2006 of allegedly extorting approximately 300 USD from a petrol station operator, who in turn demanded them to sign for not issuing petrol.
Farmonov defended himself in court, but the verdict of nine years of imprisonment was as severe as possible.
Today, 5 October, it was announced that Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov was also released from prison. He is a former correspondent of Uznews.net and the UK-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Abdurakhmanov was arrested on 7 June 2008 in the city of Nukus, where he was then tried on charges of drug peddling and sentenced to a ten-year prison term.
“SEEMO welcomes the positive news of releasing activists and journalists in Uzbekistan” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated today. “However, we cannot be overly pleased with this sudden release of two men who were most probably innocent at the time of their incarceration. We are happy that now they can return to their freedom, their families and perhaps their job, but the years they unfairly lost are equally important, and that is something we must not forget. We remind Uzbek authorities that there are many other journalists and activists in jails in the country right now, wrongly sentenced and locked away, and we call on them to release them immediately” Vujovic also added.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.