Vienna, 11 October 2017 – The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed grave concern for the wellbeing and freedom of journalist Narzullo Akhunjonov from Uzbekistan, ater the arrest at Kiev airport and subsequent detention to Uzbekistan.
Akhunjonov’s arrest has caused a public outcry, with human and media rights groups claiming that there are no grounds for his arrest or his continuous incarceration. According to sources, the journalist’s health has been deteriorating as he has been held in Ukrainian custody since 20 September when he and his family attempted to seek asylum there. He has been refused access to a doctor during his detention in Ukraine,
Akhunjonov has been facing politically motivated charges of bribery and fraud for over 20 years. He left Uzbekistan in 2013 and fled to Turkey, but after the situation there had deteriorated, he attempted to seek political asylum in Ukraine with his five and children.
SEEMO urges authorities in Ukraine to release the journalist from custody and not adhere to the undemocratic demands made by Uzbekistan. By returning the journalist to his home country, he, as well as his family, will suffer further pressures and attacks. It is unacceptable for journalists to be treated like currency and exchanged among countries.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.