Prosecutor Seeks Seven Years In Prison For Tajik Journalist Charged With Extremism


DUSHANBE -- A prosecutor has asked a court in Dushanbe to convict and sentence Tajik blogger Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda to seven years in prison on extremism charges that he and his supporters reject.

A relative of Pirmuhammadzoda told RFE/RL on December 19 that the prosecutor made his request as the trial, which started in October, resumed last week at the Ismoili Somoni district court in Dushanbe.

A representative of the court refused to give any details to RFE/RL, saying that the judge involved in the trial was not available for comment.

Pirmuhammadzoda's lawyer also refused to talk to RFE/RL.

In an October letter from the detention center, Pirmuhammadzoda wrote: ""Eight-10 days of suffering, complete isolation, threats, and insults and attacks on my family members made me accept the guilt of not doing anything,"

The 44-year-old blogger was arrested in July and charged with public calls for extremist acts and justification of extremism.

Tajik officials said later that Pirmuhammadzoda is also accused of having links with unspecified banned groups.

Pirmuhammadzoda has rejected all the charges. He has claimed that he faced beating and torture while in pretrial detention. The Prosecutor-General’s Office then launched an internal investigation into the torture claims, but no official statement has been made about the probe and its findings have not been released.

Pirmuhammadzoda is one of seven journalists arrested on extremism charges in the last six months in Tajikistan. Many of them have been handed prison terms that international rights watchdogs have called politically motivated.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, who has run the country for almost 30 years, has been criticized by international human rights groups over his administration's alleged disregard for independent media, religious freedoms, civil society, and political pluralism in the tightly controlled former Soviet republic.