Tajik State Committee For National Security Detains Journalist Khurshed Fozilov

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PANJAKENT, Tajikistan -- Tajikistan's State Committee for National Security has detained journalist Khurshed Fozilov on unspecified charges in the northeastern city of Panjakent, his mother says.

Aziza Numonova told RFE/RL on March 8 that her son had been detained two days earlier at Panajakent's Directorate of Labor, Migration and Employment, where he has worked on a contractual basis since January. Numonova added that she was allowed to see her son the previous day, but he could not tell her the exact charges he faces.

Fozilov, a 37-year-old father of three, is a freelance journalist who has cooperated with several independent media outlets, including the independent website Akhbor, which is based abroad.

He often covered social issues and problems faced by ordinary people in the region, and was critical of the local government. He has been very active on social media networks as well.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, who has run the Central Asian nation 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.

Last year, Tajik courts sentenced seven journalists and bloggers to prison terms ranging from seven years to 21 years on charges of spreading false information, involvement in the activities of extremist groups, and cooperation with banned organizations. The journalists, their supporters, and human rights groups have called the charges trumped-up and politically motivated.

International human rights groups, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and governments of the United States and the European Union have called on the Tajik government to drop all charges against the journalists and release them.

Tajikistan was ranked 152nd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' 2022 World Press Freedom Index, and Not Free in Freedom House's 2022 Global Freedom Status, with a score of 8/100.

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