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Journalist's forced detention in psychiatric hospital, in apparent retaliation for his reporting, extended for six more months

(WiPC/IFEX) - Dzamshid (Jamshid) Karimov, held under psychiatric detention since September 2006, has reportedly had the order extended for a further six months and is now not due to be released until mid-September. The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN fears that Karimov is apparently held in retaliation for his reporting on human rights issues and for his criticism of the government. It is calling for his release.

Alarm was first raised about Karimov's case in mid September 2006 when he went missing, to be found two weeks later in a psychiatric hospital in the Uzbek capital, Samarkand. His relatives were informed that he had been served with a six-month detention order, although no reasons were given as to why, only that it was a "private matter". In mid-April 2007, hopes that he would be freed were dashed when his parents were informed that the detention order had been extended a further six months, and that he would not be freed before September, by which time he would have been held for a year. The decision is said to have been delivered by a court, although it is reported that no formal documents or reason for the detention have been made available.

According to the Uzbek website UzNews ( ), Karimov's family doctors previously admitted that Karimov has no psychiatric disorder but that it was beyond their power to order his release. It goes on to report that Karimov "was counting the days and hours left until his release [only to be] told that he had to wait a little more, until June or July, because doctors knew that he would not be able to put up with another six months' treatment". His detention was reviewed in mid-March but it took a month for the decision to be made available. UzNews surmises that this may be because doctors were awaiting instructions from higher officials.

Dzhamshid Karimov, who is a nephew of Uzbek President Islom Karimov, is known for being an outspoken critic of the government, and for his reporting on socio-political issues. Shortly before his incarceration, in August 2006, Karimov's family complained about the high levels of police surveillance at their home and demanded that listening devices be removed. This request was not met. At the end of August, the head of the regional administration allegedly visited Karimov and offered him a position on two state newspapers, an offer he refused. It is thought that his relationship with President Karimov may be the reason he is being held in a hospital rather than prison.

International PEN is extremely concerned about the hospitalisation of Dzhamshid Karimov in a psychiatric institution, and is deeply disappointed that his detention has been extended by a further six months, apparently with no justification. International PEN believes he is being held in retaliation for his reporting on human rights abuses in Uzbekistan. International PEN therefore urges that Karimov be freed and that the harassment and intimidation against him and his family cease.

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