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Uzbek courts jail journalist, suspend rights group

[JURIST] An Uzbek court Thursday sentenced journalist Saidzhakhon Zainabitdinov [Amnesty profile] to seven years in prison on charges of conspiring with "terrorists," defaming the state, and religious extremism for providing information to foreign media regarding last year's violent uprising in Andijan [HRW backgrounder] where as many as 500 protesters were killed by state troops [JURIST report]. Previous trials against protesters [JURIST report] have led to 115 reported convictions, with prison sentences ranging from 12-20 years. The Uzbekistan [JURIST news archive] government's handling of the May protests and subsequent criminal prosecutions has been widely criticized by many human rights groups and the international community at large. Reuters has more.

Meanwhile, a Uzbek civil court on Wednesday denied the appeal of the US-based human rights group Freedom House [advocacy website] challenging a ruling by the Uzbek Ministry of Justice that would force the group to cease activities in Uzbekistan for six months. While Freedom House officials believe the decision was motivated by the government's desire to silence criticism of its human rights record, the group was officially charged with offering free internet access to citizens, sheltering unregistered domestic groups, and violating a classified order. Read the Freedom House press release and previous Freedom House materials on Ubezikistan's human rights record. UPI has more.

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