Ukraine: Uzbek Journalist Deserves Protection
In response to the deteriorating health of Narzullo Akhunjonov of Uzbekistan, held in Ukranian custody since September 20 when he and his family attempted to seek political asylum there, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The government of Ukraine should immediately release Narzullo Akhunjonov from detention and urgently consider his asylum application,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “Accusations made against him by the Uzbek government in an Interpol arrest warrant are clearly politically motivated and are yet another example of how authoritarian governments abuse the Interpol system to persecute political opponents, journalists, human rights activists, and others. Ukraine will bolster its democracy by offering refuge and protection to the persecuted.”
Fair Trials International and the Parliamentary Assembly to the Council of Europe (PACE) have noted that Interpol and its “Red Notice system” are being abused to persecute journalists, refugees, and activists. Akhunjonov has faced politically motivated charges of bribery and fraud for some 20 years. He left Uzbekistan for Turkey in 2013, after receiving threats of imprisonment from the Uzbek authorities. When the political situation in Turkey deteriorated, Akhunjonov requested political asylum in Ukraine along with his wife and five children.
Ukraine is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2017, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2017, Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2016, and receives a democracy score of 4.61, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2017.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.