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Ambassador Farhod Salim
Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan
1005 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DC 20037
Phone: 202 223 6090 I Fax: 202 223 6091
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Dear Mr. President,
On 28 January well-known independent journalist Daler Sharipov was detained by State Committee for National Security (SNCS) officers for purportedly “inciting religious discord” under Article 189 of the Criminal Code. Many of Daler Sharipov’s publications have been critical of the government, and throughout his career he has covered various matters of public interest, including human rights violations and religious freedom.
On 30 January Daler Sharipov appeared at Ismoili Somoni District Court in Dushanbe, which ruled to place him in pre-trial detention for two months. On 1 February the Prosecutor General’s Office issued a statement accusing Daler Sharipov of publishing “extremist” articles on religious matters and purported that he is linked to a banned extremist organization. Article 189 has a very broad and vague definition of “extremism”, and over the years has been repeatedly used in politically motivated criminal cases against dissenting voices in Tajikistan.
Daler Sharipov’s arrest and prosecution is retribution for his critical publications and his work as a journalist. He has not committed any recognizable criminal offense, and via his critical publications he has exercised his right to freedom of expression. I am concerned not only by his unfounded prosecution but also the reports that for days after his arrest, his lawyer has been denied access to Daler Sharipov.
Over the years, the work of the SCNS, the agency which is investigating his case, has been marred by numerous allegations of use of torture and other ill-treatment, including to extract “confessions” from detainees.
I urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure that Daler Sharipov is released immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.