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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora