Toronto-based Tajik blogger released from prison after 36 days

Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that the Toronto-based Tajik blogger and university researcher Aleksandr Sodiqov was let out of prison yesterday although he is now under house arrest and forbidden to leave the country pending the outcome of the government’s investigation.

The authorities should lift all restrictions on his movements and drop the charges against him, RWB said.

Arrested on 16 June in Khorog, the capital of the autonomous southeastern province of Gorno-Badakhshan, Sodiqov was taken to Dushanbe, the capital, and was held for a total of 36 days on charges of spying and high treason.

“It is a relief to know that Sodiqov is with his family but it is still too soon to relax,” said Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. “He has suffered a great deal because of the Tajik government’s security paranoia. Justice will only be done when he is cleared of all suspicion and recovers full freedom of movement.”

On his release from prison, Sodiqov said he was fine and delighted to be reunited with his family. He also said he was treated reasonably.

A resident of Toronto since 2012, Sodiqov comments on Tajik current affairs on his blog and the GlobalVoices platform. He went to Khorog under a conflict management and resolution programme run by Britain’s Exeter University because the city was the scene of riots in July 2012 and May 2014.

He was arrested at the end of an interview with local opposition leader Alim Cherzamonov.

Tajikistan is ranked 115th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.