Family Says Tajik Border Service Official Arrested, Whereabouts Unknown

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Relatives of a spokesman for Tajikistan's border service say that he was arrested earlier this month, confirming media reports that he was detained, but that they do not know where he is.

Muhammadjon Ulughkhojaev's mother told RFE/RL on April 29 that the family does not know why he was arrested. News reports have said he was accused of disclosing state secrets.

Zebo Ulughkhojaeva said that she last saw her son two weeks ago, and that authorities searched his home on April 16.

She said the family has hired a defense lawyer for her son, who is a spokesman for the Border Guard Directorate of the State Committee for National Security, but does not know what charges he might face.

Several Tajik officials said they were not authorized to comment, and others could not immediately be reached.

Citing unnamed security sources, the Akhbor news agency reported on April 26 that Ulughkhojaev was arrested for allegedly disclosing classified material to a foreign organization.

The AsiaPlus news agency reported on April 29 that Ulughkhojaev allegedly sent "state secrets" in communications via email and online messenger.

Under Tajik law, the intentional disclosure of state secrets is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Akhbor and AsiaPlus reported that following the official's arrest, security committee head Saimumin Yatimov prohibited spokespeople from sharing information with reporters and others without prior authorization from their supervisors.

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