The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned a 10-year prison handed down to noted Tajik journalist Daler Imomali.

On October 18, the CPT released a statement condemning the ruling.  

Independent journalist Daler Imomali was sentenced to 10 years in prison on October 17 on multiple charges related to his reporting, including participation in banned organizations.  

Ms. Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, says: “From the start, it has been clear that the case against Daler Imomali is about signaling that the critical public-interest journalism that he practiced will not be tolerated, and ratcheting up pressure on Tajikistan’s media to self-censor. This harsh sentence confirms that.”

“Authorities in Tajikistan should immediately release Imomali and all other journalists currently imprisoned for their work, and stop abusing the judicial system to terrorize what remains of the country’s independent press,” Ms. Said said.

The statement says Imomali and another imprisoned journalist, Abdullo Ghurbati, worked together on Imomali’s YouTube channel, which covered social issues and citizens’ complaints against authorities and has nearly 150,000 subscribers.

According to the statement, local press freedom advocates previously told CPJ that the pair’s bold style of confronting authorities over local residents’ issues was unusual in Tajikistan and the channel had grown in popularity in the months prior to their June arrests.

The statement notes that Imomali and Ghurbati are among at least six journalists currently detained in Tajikistan on accusations of major criminal offenses in what CPJ views as retaliation for their reporting.

Recall, Imomali’s relatives told Asia-Plus yesterday morning that a court in Dushanbe’s Shohmansour district sentenced Daler Imomali to 10 years in prison on October 17.   According to them, the court also ordered Imomali to pay a hefty fine.

No further details were available as the trial was held at Dushanbe-based pretrial detention facility behind closed doors.

 Imomali’s case moved to a court on September 15 and the trial began on October 7.  The trial was held at the Dushanbe-based pretrial detention facility behind closed doors.

Imomali is charged with illegal entrepreneurship, premeditated false denunciation, and cooperating with the banned Group 24 opposition movement, which was officially designated in the country as a terrorist organization in 2014.  Imomali pleaded guilty to the illegal entrepreneurship charge, but rejected the other two.

Imomali was detained along with noted journalist Abdullo Ghurbati on June 15 and sent to pretrial detention center three days later.