Washington, D.C. – Freedom Now welcomes the release of journalist and activist Dilmurod Saidov from wrongful detention in Uzbekistan.

Saidov was released on February 3, 2018, after nearly nine years of wrongful imprisonment. He was arrested in Uzbekistan in February 2009 and sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison on fabricated extortion and forgery charges.

“The release of Dilmurod Saidov is yet another encouraging sign of President Mirziyoyev’s commitment to reform,” said Freedom Now Washington Director Melina Milazzo. “Saidov is the 18th political prisoner and eighth journalist released from arbitrary detention in Uzbekistan since President Mirziyoyev assumed power in late 2016. We call on President Mirziyoyev to build on these positive steps and release all political prisoners, including Aramais Avakyan and Gaybullo Jalilov, and ensure that recently released human rights defenders, civil society leaders, and activists are able to conduct their work without fear of threats or harassment. In doing so, he will help cement these significant steps into meaningful change.”

As a journalist, Saidov wrote many critical articles about the government, accusing authorities of corruption and asserting that their corrupt dealings were impoverishing the region’s farmers. On February 22, 2009 he was arrested on extortion charges after being accused by a local government official. The investigation into these alleged charges and the trial were plagued with violations of fair trial standards.

Before and during trial, several witnesses rescinded their testimony against Saidov and reported that they had been pressured to make false allegations against him. Despite these shocking violations of human rights, on July 30, 2009, Saidov was convicted and sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison. He has suffered many hardships during his time in prison, including tuberculosis and the death of his wife and five year old daughter, both of whom were killed in a car accident on their way to visit him in 2010.

Freedom Now represents Saidov as his international pro bono counsel. In November 2012, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued Opinion 67/2012, finding Saidov’s detention to be in violation of international law and calling for his immediate release. Freedom Now recently filed a submission with the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017 in advance of Uzbekistan’s Universal Periodic Review. The submission highlights a number of cases, including Saidov’s.