Muborak, the wife of Abdullo Ghurbati, Tajik blogger arrested on June 15 on charge of beating a police officer, managed to meet with him at the pretrial detention facility in Dushanbe yesterday. 

“During a week, they have promised me to see my husband, but they have canceled my visit to Abdullo several times under various pretexts several times,” Muborak told Asia-Plus in an interview.  

“He and I talked for about an hour.  He's healthy and he's fine,” Muborak said.  

She further noted that no matter what, Abdullo believes he will be released. 

“He asked to convey to all his friends not to forget him,” Muborak added.  

Recall, Abdullo Ghurbati and Daler Imomali, two popular bloggers known for their reports criticizing authorities, were detained in Dushanbe late on June 15 after being summoned by police for questioning.

Ghurbati is accused of beating a police officer at the police station in Dushanbe’s Shohmansour district, a charge that could carry a fine or a two-year prison sentence.

Daler Imomali was charged with illegal entrepreneurship and premeditated false denunciation.

Abdullo Ghurbati denied the accusations and pleaded not guilty, while Daler Imomali previously pleaded guilty partially. 

A court in Dushanbe’s Shohmansour district has ordered pretrial detention of two months for Abdullo Ghurbati and Daler Imomali.  According to Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, they were remanded in custody for two months after two separate hearings held in secret over the weekend.

During the court hearing on June 18, the court added a charge of “participation in activities of political parties, public or religious associations, which are banned in Tajikistan in connection with the implementation of extremist activities, as well as assistance in their activities with use of mass media, Internet network or otherwise” under Article 307 note 3 (2) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code against Daler Imomali.  If convicted he could face seven years in prison.

The city police in both Dushanbe and Vahdat, where Daler Imomali had traveled to film a documentary, had previously interrogated Imomali about his professional activities as an independent blogger.  On June 4, when the Dushanbe police questioned Imomali, they beat him, but later released him on the condition that he would delete some content from his YouTube channel.

The arrests come after an outcry by human rights advocates and media groups over an attack on journalists from RFE/RL's Tajik Service and Current Time on May 17.  Tajik authorities have launched a probe into the incident.

Journalists and civil rights activists had previously demanded an investigation into recent attacks on journalists, and called for the release of Abdullo Ghurbati and Daler Imomali.  Reporters Without Borders condemned their detention, calling for their immediate release. 

In a statement released on June 22, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Tajik authorities to release the two detained bloggers and respect media freedom.