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Urunboy Usmonov in London

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Hamid Ismailov Hamid Ismailov | 14:47 UK time, Tuesday, 25 September 2012

You might remember the name Urunboy Usmonov - the BBC reporter in Tajikistan who was arrested last year after being accused of having links to the Hizb ut-Tahrir party, an Islamic organisation which is banned in Tajikistan. The BBC World Service then issued a statement, saying that "whilst Mr Usmonov has reported on the judicial trials and activities of the Hizb ut-Tahrir party in Tajikistan at the request of the BBC, the BBC has no reason to believe these allegations".

Later, in the following statements, the BBC reiterated its position: "The BBC has been clear that it regards the allegations linking the BBC reporter to Hizb ut-Tahrir as completely unfounded.

Urunboy Usmonov

Urunboy Usmonov has worked for the Central Asian service for ten years

"We believe that meetings and interviews with people representing all shades of opinion are part of the work of any BBC journalist'.

You can read how the whole story unfolded in these previous blog posts:

What does it take to be a journalist in Central Asia?
Trip to Tajikistan to see Urunboy Usmonov in prison
Urunboy Usmonov: where does the literature end?
Urunboy Usmonov rejoins his family

After spending 31 day in Hodjent's security services' prison and as a result of unprecedented international pressure, Urunboy Usmonov was released on bail and later sentenced to three years' imprisonment for not reporting his meetings with members of Hizb ut-Tahrir to the security services.

Simultaneously with that sentence, the court pardoned Urunboy Usmonov under a decree from the president of Tajikistan.

In a word, Urunboy hasn't been fully acquitted of that alleged and absurd 'crime', but pardoned as a criminal.

Neither he nor the BBC has accepted that outcome and are continuing the legal battle which has lasted more than a year.

Initially Urunboy Usmonov appealed to the High Court of Tajikistan with a plea to fully acquit him.

Unfortunately the High Court upheld the sentence of the provincial court.

Now the matter is with the Appeals Committee of the High Court - the last legal resort in Tajikistan. We are waiting for their decision.

BBC World Service staff holding a vigil for Urunboy Usmonov

BBC World Service staff held vigils for Urunboy Usmonov

Last week Urunboy Usmonov came to London. Here he met the colleagues who have supported him and his family throughout his ordeal. He also met officials from the BBC World Service and went to see English PEN and other organisations who rallied for his acquittal.

Everywhere he raised the same issue: his case is still unresolved and he is determined to fight to the end to prove his innocence and to be fully acquitted.

Why is it so important to see this case through?

As Urunboy explains it's not just a personal matter of a journalist called Urunboy Usmonov, but the opposition between free and independent journalism and the tyranny of authorities that act with impunity, between freedom of speech and persecution from security services.

'Someone must stand up!' says Urunboy.

His fight for justice has already made a difference in Tajikistan.

Several journalists who were sentenced to long-term jail sentences and huge fines have been acquitted. Journalists have also united with lawyers to protect one another and the Association of Journalists has become stronger.

Now going back to Tajikistan, Urunboy is even more determined to fight his case.

He needs our common support.

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