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


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 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

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs