Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, said the following today (13 July):
I am very concerned about the sentencing of journalist Khayrullo Mirsaidov to twelve years in a prison camp in Tajikistan.
This makes the situation with respect to the freedom of the press and freedom of opinion in Tajikistan, and also cooperation with the EU based on values, even more difficult than before.
I call on the authorities and the judiciary in Tajikistan to respect the principles of the rule of law and to revise the judgement. Khayrullo Mirsaidov has the right to a fair trial.
On 11 July, a court in Khujand, northern Tajikistan, sentenced former journalist Khayrullo Mirsaidov (who had worked for Deutsche Welle and other media outlets) to 12 years’ imprisonment for embezzling state funds, forging of documents and making false statements, as well as to a fine of 11,500 euros, thereby falling just short of the 13 years requested by the public prosecutor.
In November 2017, in letters to President Rahmon and other high ranking officials, Mr Mirsaidov had accused the head of the youth and sports directorate of having demanded a 1000 US dollar bribe from him. He was unable to provide evidence substantiating this allegation. The head of the youth and sports directorate and the public prosecutor filed counterclaims and the official in question sued for defamation. Khayrullo Mirsaidov was arrested on 5 December 2017 and has been in custody ever since.