Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
08TASHKENT706
2008-06-20 10:12:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Tashkent
Cable title:  

SUBJECT: UZBEK JOURNALIST DETAINED ON DRUG CHARGES

Tags:  PGOV KPAO PHUM PREL UZ 
pdf how-to read a cable
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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNT #0706/01 1721012
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201012Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TASHKENT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9842
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT PRIORITY 4056
RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA PRIORITY 0269
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK PRIORITY 4671
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO PRIORITY 0535
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0429
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE PRIORITY 0553
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 4261
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 2552
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 0574
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1210
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1253
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L TASHKENT 000706 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA, DRL, AND SCA/PPD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/20/2018
TAGS: PGOV KPAO PHUM PREL UZ
SUBJECT: SUBJECT: UZBEK JOURNALIST DETAINED ON DRUG CHARGES

Classified By: Classfied By: IO Molly Stephenson for reasons 1.4 (b) a
nd (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L TASHKENT 000706

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA, DRL, AND SCA/PPD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/20/2018
TAGS: PGOV KPAO PHUM PREL UZ
SUBJECT: SUBJECT: UZBEK JOURNALIST DETAINED ON DRUG CHARGES

Classified By: Classfied By: IO Molly Stephenson for reasons 1.4 (b) a
nd (d).


1. (C) On June 17, Information Officer met with Bahram
Abdurahmanov, the brother and lawyer of detained journalist
Salijon Abdurahmanov, in the western city of Nukus,
Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan. Abdurahmanov formerly
worked for Voice of America, Radio Liberty, and Institute for
War and Peace Reporting, and more recently contributed to
independent news website uznews.net.


2. (C) According to his brother, Abdurahmanov and a friend
were stopped at Dostoyara Street by Nukus traffic police at
about 7:00 pm on June 7. When Abdurahmanov was unable to
present identification (he had forgotten his driver's license
at home),the police searched his vehicle with two sniffer
dogs. (Note: This is unusual since dogs are not typically
assigned to standard traffic police, though random drug
searches by traffic police have been known to occur
occasionally. End note.) The police claimed that the dogs
had found something suspicious, but Abdurahmanov and his
friend saw no overt reaction from the dogs. The traffic
police then called in a special squadron to conduct a
thorough search of the car and discovered two plastic bags of
narcotics 114.18 grams of marijuana and 5.89 grams of opium
beneath the fuel tank. According to the brother, the
marijuana bag was wrapped in a Kazakh newspaper dating from
October 2005.


3. (C) According to the brother, Salijon Abdurahmanov and his
friend were detained immediately. Both Abdurahmanov's and
his friend's homes were searched. Abdurahmanov's work
documents and computer were confiscated and are now held at
the investigations department. Abdurahmanov was forced to
sign each confiscated document. While the computer had not
yet been opened as of June 17, Abdurahmanov may soon need to
sign the printouts of each file on his computer. Nothing
incriminating was found nor confiscated from Abdurahmanov's
friend's home and he was released after 24 hours. This
friend then shared what had happened with Abdurahmanov's
brother and lawyer Bahram.


4. (C) Abdurahmanov remains in custody and was formally
arrested on June 10. His brother visited him on June 17 and
shared that he was healthy, in "good spirits," and with "no
complaints" about his treatment. They filed an appeal to the
Karakalpakstan Supreme Court on June 13, but were officially
denied on June 16. The local authorities have not shared the
timeline for processing the case. Abdurahmanov's brother
believes that "the officials themselves do not know."
According to a June 18 uznews.net article, Abdurahmanov has
been charged under Article 276 Clause 2A of the Uzbek
Criminal Code with "the illegal production, purchase and
storing of drugs without the intent to distribute," which
carries a penalty of three to five years imprisonment.


5. (C) Abdurahmanov's brother shared that he is cooperating
with the International Human Rights Society, also known as
Ezgulik, and others human rights groups in Uzbekistan, and
has answered questions from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,
BBC and other international organizations. He has not "hid
any realities" and is convinced that local authorities
planted the drugs to gain access to his brother's
professional files. He believes that the authorities "will
not find anything illegal" and "justice will find its
course." An unconfirmed June 18 uznews.net article alleged
that blood tests conducted on Abdurahmanov demonstrated that
he had not used drugs. The article also denied an earlier
independent uzmetronom.com website report that Abdurahmanov
had admitted to using drugs (Note: Both websites have been
unreliable sources of information in the past. End note).


6. (C) Comment: While Salijon Abdurahmanov is not well known
to the Embassy or to journalists or human rights activists in
Tashkent, the Press Office had noticed a recent increase in
critical reporting about Karakalpakstan on independent site
uznews.net. We suspect that Abdurahmanov may have drafted
these reports. Abdurahmanov's detention appears to be
another unfortunate example of the government's efforts to
harass and intimidate independent journalists despite Uzbek
President Karimov's personal call for greater press freedom.
We also believe, from our own discussions with the MFA, that
the subject of Karakalpak independence sentiment, which the
uznews.net articles reported, is a very sensitive one for the
government. Post will work to provide whatever support
possible to journalists who strive to bolster press freedom
in Uzbekistan.
NORLAND