The lawyer Abdurahmon Sharipov, who was hired by the Dushanbe-based Independent Center for Protection of Human Rights to represent independent journalist and blogger Abdulloh Ghurbati in court, has refused to continue providing legal assistance to the journalist after the latter was convicted. 

The blogger’s relatives have confirmed this in an interview with Asia-Plus.  According to them, they are going to appeal to a higher court, “but the lawyer said he could not help.” 

The lawyer reportedly told them that he had provided legal assistance to Abdulloh Ghrubati free of charge within the framework of the project and “after completion of the project he is unable to continue providing legal assistance to Ghurbati.”  

Abdulloh’s relatives said they would pay him, but the lawyer refused, referring to a heavy workload.  

Recall, a court in Dushanbe’s Shohmansour district sentenced Abdulloh Ghurbati to 7 ½ years in prison on October 4, 2022 on charges of publicly insulting an authority, a minor assault on an authority, and participating in the activities of an extremist group.  Ghurbati pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

Seven Tajik journalists and bloggers Mamadsulton Mavlonazarov, Abdulloh Ghurbati, Daler Imomali, Zavqibek Saidamini, Khoushrouz Jumayev, Ulfatkhonim Mamadshoyeva and Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda were sentenced to prison terms of between seven and twenty-one  years last year.

They were charged with spreading false information, participation in extremism community and collaboration with banned organization.  The journalists themselves and their relatives reject these charges as absolutely unfounded.   

International groups, including Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), have called on the Tajik government to release the reporters and end its campaign against the free press.

A report released by the CPJ on December 14 says arrest and conviction of independent journalists and bloggers makes Tajikistan the leading jailer in Central Asia.

The report, in particular, notes that the prisoners were tried secretly behind closed doors in detention centers, not courts, and sentenced to lengthy prison terms amid allegations of torture.

Ranked 152nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Tajikistan has fallen 36 places in the index since 2015.