19 September 2014 – Update #2 to RAN 11/14
PEN International warmly welcomes the news that Alexander Sodiqov, the blogger and academic researcher who was arrested and charged with treason in June 2014, was allowed to leave Tajikistan and return to Canada on 10 September 2014. PEN International campaigned for Sodiqov to be allowed to return to his home and work at the University of Toronto, and for the politically-motivated treason charge against him to be dropped. According to reports, these charges remain in place and we call once again on the Tajik authorities to drop them.
Alexander Sodiqov, 31, is a popular blogger on Central Asian issues at Global Voices and the Tajikistan Monitor and is a PhD student at the University of Toronto, Canada. At the time of his arrest (16 June 2014), he was carrying out research in Gorno-Badakhshan as part of a mutli-country research project led by the University of Exeter in the UK.
He was arrested by security officers during an interview with an opposition leader as part of his research into conflict resolution in Gorno-Badakhshan, a region which has recently seen deadly clashes between protesters and local security forces. On 17 June 2014, the State Committee for National Security (SCNS) issued a statement accusing Sodiqov of spying for foreign governments. After spending approximately five weeks in detention, Sodiqov was released in July 2014. However, the conditions of his release were very strict and it was announced that the investigation would be extended by a year. Sodiqov was prohibited from leaving Tajikistan and returning to his academic studies in Canada; he was not allowed to speak to foreign journalists, ambassadors and human rights organisations.
Under Article 305 of the Tajikistan Criminal Code, High Treason – including espionage – conducted by a citizen is punishable by imprisonment for a period of 12 to 20 years simultaneously with confiscation of property.
Write to Tajikistan’s President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, calling on Tajikistan to drop the treason charge against Sodiqov, which PEN International believes is politically motivated.
For further information on Alexander Sodiqov please see PEN’s previous call to action.
Mr Emomali Rahmon
80 Rudaki Street
Fax: +992 372 21 68 00
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr Aslov Sirodjidin Muhridinovich,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
33 Sheroz str., Dushanbe 734001, Republic of Tajikistan
Fax: (992 37) 221-02-59
E-mail: info [at] mfa [dot] tj