It has now been a week since our colleague Urunboy Usmonov was detained by the security services in Tajikistan. The BBC issued a statement on the 14 June, condemning the detention and demanding his immediate release.
Despite similar statements from the British and American Embassies and many other respected international organisations the Tajik authorities have not responded. Moreover, over the past week the BBC reporter has been denied regular and confidential access to his lawyer, and has not been allowed any access to his family and colleagues, which is against the norms of both international and Tajik law.
The recent interview arranged by the security agencies and subsequent article published by Press.tj agency on Saturday 18 June, accusing the BBC correspondent of being a member of Hizbut-Tahrir represents a breach of legal practice and a serious violation of presumption of innocence. We strongly reiterate that these allegations are unfounded and the BBC sees them as a serious threat to professional journalism and to freedom of expression in Tajikistan.
Urunboy Usmonov, as a BBC journalist, is expected to cover all sides of any story and in the course of his work it is only natural that he would meet and interview people representing all shades of opinion.
It is vital for all journalists to be able to report freely on any organisation without fear of harassment and intimidation.
We continue to be highly concerned for Urunboy’s safety. He suffers from a serious heart condition and has requested further medical attention. His family have expressed deep concerns about his health and possible maltreatment in the detention centre. Our thoughts are with Urunboy and his family, and we appeal to everyone with influence over this situation to redouble their efforts to secure the immediate release of the BBC reporter Urunboy Usmonov by the Tajik authorities.