OSCE Representative calls for release of Uzbek journalist

Uzbekistan Materials 14 March 2007 10:39 (UTC +04:00)

( OSCE ) - The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, has called for the release of the detained Uzbek journalist and human rights activist, Umida Niyazova.

"All journalists, including those investigating disturbances or conflict, should be free to collect and store information for publication," wrote Miklos Haraszti in a letter to Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov.

He added that by interfering in the work of the journalists, authorities prevent a debate on matters of public interest.

Ms Niyazova, 31, was detained by police in Andijan on 22 January. Criminal charges have been brought against her for crossing the border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and for "collecting and distributing information that threatens public security". The maximum penalty for these charges is ten years imprisonment.

The OSCE Representative has asked the Uzbek authorities to discontinue the criminal case against Ms Umida Niyazova, the mother of a two-year old child, and to facilitate her timely release from pre-trial detention.