Tajik journalist Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov, who served almost nine years in the Khujand-based penal colony 3/5, was released Saturday (April 16) evening. 

He says now he plans to focus on writing materials in a humorous and satirical style.

Ismoilov told Asia-Plus in an interview that he had served eight years and ten months in prison.

“I would like to thank journalists and human rights organization as well as everyone who stood up for me and wrote about my case.  It was the support of my colleagues that helped me not to lose heart and try to fight.  It was the support and materials of journalists that saved my life and helped me a lot psychologically,” Ismoilov noted. 

Now, after his release, the journalist also pleads not guilty and says that the woman who accused him of extortion later apologized.  

“I don't think she's guilty, the authorities took her for a spin.  Then she regretted it.  I don’t know exactly what happened next, but she was also imprisoned,” the journalist noted.  

As it had been reported earlier, police detained former regional reporter for the Dushanbe-based independent weekly Nouri Zindagi (Light of Life) in Sughd province, Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov, on June 24, 2013 following an application by the 39-year-old resident of the Asht district Sanovbar Ahadova.

Ahadova noted that Ismoilov had demanded money from her, threatening with the dissemination of information discrediting her.

Ismoilov was reportedly caught red-handed while taking 400 somonis from her.  Criminal proceedings have been instituted against Ismoilov under the provisions of two articles of Tajikistan’s Penal Code: Article 247 (2) – fraud; and Article 250 (2) – extortion.

On October 28, 2013, Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov was sentenced to eleven years in prison.    

A jail term of Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov has been reduced by one year, four months and twenty days in accordance with the amnesty law that was adopted on October 25, 2019.  

It is not the first time police detained Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov.  In November 2010, Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov was arrested on separate counts of defamation, insult, and incitement to hatred over an article titled, “Asht Is Being Destroyed. Who Is Responsible for It?”  In the article, published in the August 2010 issue of Nouri Zindagi, Ismoilov criticized government and law enforcement officials in the Asht district and cited corruption, abuse of office, and mismanagement of funds.  Ismoilov who was facing 16 years imprisonment on charges related to his professional activities was released on October 14, 2011.  The Khujand court, however, barred Mahmadyusuf Ismoilov from journalistic work for three years, and ordered him to pay a fine in the amount of 35,000 somonis for causing moral damages.