News / Asia

VOA Uzbek Journalist on Trial in Tashkent

Photo of Abdumalik Bobaev, who reports on Uzbekistan for the Voice of America
Photo of Abdumalik Bobaev, who reports on Uzbekistan for the Voice of America

Multimedia

Audio
James Brooke

Abdumalik Bobaev, who reports on Uzbekistan for the Voice of America, is on trial for reporting, among other things, that journalists go to trial in Uzbekistan for doing their jobs.

Bobaev, who has reported on Uzbekistan for VOA for the past five years, is on trial in Tashkent, charged with slander, insult and endangering public security.  If convicted, he could face up to eight years in jail.

The 6,700-word indictment recently was translated from Uzbek into Russian and posted on the Fergana.ru website.  It showed a state censorship unit had been very attentive to listeners of the VOA Uzbek service.

Charges "complete falsifications"

Bobaev's indictment contains a long list of Bobaev's reports - child labor in cotton fields, the drying up of the Aral Sea, and the trial and conviction of two reporters last June.  By reporting on these trials and saying Uzbekistan's "... government controls the media, and pressures journalists," the indictment charges that Bobaev "was openly insulting the judiciary and law enforcement agencies of Uzbekistan."

Reached by cellphone in Tashkent, Bobaev denied the charges, saying they were "complete falsifications.''  But knowing the state of press freedom in Uzbekistan, he said he is not optimistic about the outcome.

When the charges were filed last month, VOA Director Danforth W. Austin said in a statement, "Mr. Bobaev, like all VOA journalists, is required to present accurate and balanced reports, and he should not be penalized for doing his job."

Before the trial started in the Tashkent courtroom on Monday, activists briefly unfolded banners reading: "A Bobaev, people know their heroes!" and "Down with judicial arbitrariness".

History of censorship

During the past two years, Uzbekistan has tried and jailed eight reporters.  Another reporter, Vladimir Berezovsky, a Russian, also is on trial on slander charges.

The Uzbekistan government routinely denies visas to foreign journalists.  As a result, coverage of the most populous country in Central Asia is left to reports from travelers and a dwindling band of Uzbeks brave enough to report for foreign news organizations.

A statement from Paris-based Reporters without Borders reads, "Bobaev is one of the country's last outspoken journalists.  The authorities have long had him in their sights and have been harassing him since the start of the year, but he has never stopped providing independent coverage of Uzbek society."  In the rights group's ranking of press freedom in 175 countries, Uzbekistan ranks at 160, near the bottom.

Silencing critics

In a country where Internet access is growing, the government increasingly blocks and filters foreign news websites.  The indictment against Bobaev cites offending articles on the VOA Uzbek website as frequently as it cites VOA radio broadcasts.

The head of the Initiative Group of Independent Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan, Surat Ikramov, said press freedom does not exist in Uzbekistan.  Talking by telephone from Tashkent, he said all media in Uzbekistan is under control of the government, and that no newspaper, magazine or radio station can criticize the government.

The media freedom representative for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Dunja Mijatovic, has written to Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov, saying, "The cases of Bobaev and Berezovsky are yet another indication that the press freedom-situation in Uzbekistan continues to deteriorate, and I urge the authorities to reverse this trend."

Deadly, disturbing harassment

In a disturbing form of harassment, a state-run television channel early this year branded as traitors the Uzbekistan correspondents for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.  The channel broadcast their photos, home addresses, and schools attended by their children.

Three years ago, Alisher Saipov, a VOA Uzbek service reporter, was shot dead outside his office in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, one month after Uzbekistan official media branded him a traitor.

Before Bobaev's trial started, a U.S. Embassy statement in Tashkent said, "We are deeply concerned about the criminal case against Mr. Bobaev, as well as its implications for media freedom in Uzbekistan.  We are following the case very closely and expect Uzbekistan to uphold its constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression."  

On Monday, an American embassy official was allowed to attend Bobaev's trial.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid