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Pre-trial release for BBC reporter in Tajikistan

Tajikistan Materials 14 July 2011 17:26
A BBC reporter, accused by the Tajikistan government of membership in an Islamist terrorist group, will be released from pre-trial detention, officials said Thursday.
Pre-trial release for BBC reporter in Tajikistan

A BBC reporter, accused by the Tajikistan government of membership in an Islamist terrorist group, will be released from pre-trial detention, officials said Thursday, DPA reported.

"I have just signed the order," said prosecutor general Sherkhon Salimzoda. "Today, by the end of the day (Urunbay) Usmonov will be allowed to go free."

Tajikistan police arrested Usmonov on June 13 and charged him with being an active member of Hizb ut-Tahir.

That charge was later dropped but he remains charged with failing to report the activities of a terrorist group to authorities, an omission punishable by a jail sentence in Tajikstan, the Interfax news agency.

Prosecutors also have accused Usmonov of advocating inter-ethnic violence in internet articles and other media, but have not charged him.

The British government and the BBC have protested the accusations, saying Usmonov, 50, is a veteran journalist whose reporting has been even-handed.

A travel ban on Usmonov was in effect and he would not be allowed to leave Tajikistan until the charge was dropped or a trial proved his innocence, Salimzoda said.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is a pan-Islamic movement with adherents throughout the Muslim world. It is outlawed in most nations including Tajikistan.

Last year, the Tajik government sentenced 150 people to prison for alleged membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, as well as some 40 people so far in 2011.

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