The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, yesterday expressed his concern about an excessive sentence of 12 years in a penal colony handed down to Khairullo Mirsaidov by a court in Tajikistan.

“I am alarmed by the stringent and disproportionate sentence handed down to the journalist, especially given the sum of 124,000 Somoni (approx. 11,521 EUR) he is accused of embezzling,” the Representative stated.

“I call on the authorities to immediately release Khairullo Mirsaidov and to ensure that journalists in Tajikistan are free to report on all matters of public interest without fear of reprisal,” Désir said.

The Representative previously intervened in the case of Khairullo Mirsaidov in a letter to the authorities of Tajikistan in March 2018 and in a public statement in April 2018 expressing concern that the journalist's detention is a result of his professional activities.

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. He provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. 

Recall, Khairullo Mirsaidov, stand-up comedian and a former contributor to the Asia Plus news agency and the Deutsche Welle, yesterday was found guilty of embezzlement of public funds, forgery of documents and dissemination of false information and sentenced to 12 years in prison.  Mirsaidov admitted to some of the charges, but maintains that his arrest and trial are retribution for an article he wrote on corruption among local authorities in November 2017.