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VOA Expresses Concern about Fate of Uzbek Journalist

Abdumalik Boboev charged by Uzbek authorities

Washington, D.C., September 16, 2010 - The Voice of America is deeply concerned about the fate of VOA Uzbek journalist Abdumalik Boboev, who has been charged by authorities in Uzbekistan with threatening public safety, slander, insult, and visa violations.

If convicted, the 41 year-old Mr. Boboev could face several years in jail.

For more than five years, Mr. Boboev has been reporting for the VOA Uzbek Service. In 2009, he was given an award for his writing on Uzbekistan-U.S. relations by the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent.

VOA Director Danforth W. Austin said Thursday, "Mr. Boboev, like all VOA journalists, is required to present accurate and balanced reports, and he should not be penalized for doing his job."

This week, Mr. Boboev was asked by the prosecutor's office in Tashkent to sign documents outlining the allegations against him, but he was not given copies of the documents. He has denied the allegations, and says his reports accurately reflect Uzbek government positions, as well as interviews with human rights activists and ordinary citizens.

Several months ago, Mr. Boboev was among a small group of journalists summoned by the government and questioned about his reporting activities. Mr. Boboev has been working in the country for a number of years without formal accreditation because his repeated applications to the government have gone unanswered.

In response to government allegations about visa violations, Mr. Boboev says he had the proper paperwork during a recent trip abroad and was not aware of any problems with his visa stamp when he re-entered the country.

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The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.

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