It appears that justice in Tajikistan is increasingly reserved for those with strong international pressure behind them. On November 30, Tajikistan’s Supreme Court dismissed the appeal filed against the conviction of Urunboy Usmonov by the Sughd provincial court in Khujand in October. Usmonov, a reporter for the BBC’s Uzbek Service in Tajikistan, was arrested in June on charges of membership in a banned Islamist group, Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT). Strong international pressure, including from the European Union and the United States, prompted the authorities to drop the original charges. Moreover, the journalist was released from pre-trial detention after what was announced as a personal intervention of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon.
Usmonov was apparently not so important for Tajik authorities that they would imprison him even at risk of ruining their relations with Western powers. On October 14, Usmonov was freed under a nationwide amnesty despite the court finding him guilty and sentencing to three years in jail for not informing the authorities of his meetings with HuT activists. International pressure was central to the authorities’ decision not to put Usmonov in jail.