Khayrullo Mirsaidov, a well-respected independent journalist in Tajikistan, was arrested on December 5, 2017, after publicly appealing to Tajikistan’s president about alleged local authority corruption.

Khayrullo Mirsaidov, a well-respected independent journalist in Tajikistan, was arrested on December 5, 2017, after publicly appealing to Tajikistan’s president about alleged local authority corruption.©Radio Ozodi/Tajik Service of Radio Free Europe

(Bishkek) – Tajik authorities detained a well-known independent journalist and head of a local comedy troupe on December 5, 2017, in Tajikistan’s northern Sughd region, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today.The regional Prosecutor General’s office arrested Khayrullo Mirsaidov, 39, in Khujand, on charges of embezzlement; incitement of interethnic, national, or religious hatred; forgery; and providing false testimony after he voluntarily appeared at the Prosecutor General’s office for questioning. The charges were brought after Mirsaidov appealed to Tajikistan’s president to crack down on corruption by local authorities.

“Khayrullo Mirsaidov, who is well-known and respected for his independent journalism, appears to be the latest victim of the Tajik government’s crackdown on critical voices,” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Tajik government should ensure Mirsaidov’s rights in detention, including to be free from ill treatment and have access to a lawyer, and should move promptly to secure his release.”

Habibullo Mirsaidov, the journalist’s father, told Radio Ozodi, the Tajik