The State Committee for National Security (SCNS) has completed investigation into the case of freelance journalist Daler Sharifov and sent it to the Prosecutor-General’s Office.  Sharifov is charged with incitement of racial ethnic, regional or religious enmity.

“On March 27, the case of Daler Sharifov was sent the Prosecutor-General’s Office for further investigation and confirmation of indictment,” Sharifov’s defense lawyers Abdurahmon Sharifov and Gulguna Shozodayeva told Asia-Plus in an interview.      

According to them, they will participate in the trial and stand up for the line of defense.   

Recall, Daler Sharifov was summoned for questioning to the State Committee for National Security (SCNS)’s office in Dushanbe’s Shohmansour district on January 28 and he has not been seen since.

On January 29, Daler Sharifov was moved from the SCNS office in Dushanbe’s Shohmansour district to the SCNS head office.     

One of relatives of Daler Sharifov told Asia-Plus on January 29 that security officers had conducted a search of Sharifov’s home during which they confiscated several books in Tajik, Russian and Arabic languages.  “They said that they will check out the books and will release him after questioning,” the relative said.  

On January 30, a court in Dushanbe’s Ismoili Somoni district ruled that the journalist should remain in pre-trial custody for at least two months.

In a statement released on February 1, the Prosecutor-General’s Office of Tajikistan noted that Daler Sharifov is suspected of inciting religious enmity. 

The statement, in particular, notes that during 2013-2019, a 32-year-old journalist Dalerjon Sharifov, a resident of the village of Niyogon in the Burun jamoat, which is subordinate to Vahdat Township, published more than 200 articles and commentaries of extremist nature aimed at inciting religious enmity in social networks.

In June 2019, Daler Sharifov published 100 copies of an unidentified text allegedly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement in an underground printing house, according to the statement. 

“In this connection, criminal proceedings were instituted against Sharifov under the provisions of Article 189 (1) – inciting racial, ethnic, regional or religious enmity,” the statement said.

The journalist could face up to five years in prison if found guilty of charges produced against him.

The journalist’s father, Abdumannon Sharifov, denied the charges and said they were retaliation for his son’s writing, according to Fergana news agency.

In a statement released on February 6, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged the Tajik authorities should immediately release journalist Daler Sharifov, drop all charges against him, and allow him to work unobstructed.  

Daler Sharifov had previously worked with Tajik national TV channel Safina as author and host of the program “Mushoirat” (Communicating).     

According Eurasianet, Daler Sharifov most recently worked for the independent news website Ozodagon, which was forced to close shop in 2019.  Most of the staff at the newspaper, including its founder Zafar Sufi, have reportedly sought asylum in Europe.  After Ozodagon folded, Sharifov remained in Dushanbe and continued to work freelance, writing about government campaigns to pressure women into refraining from wearing hijabs and other rights violations, according to Eurasianet