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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid