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Journalist forcibly interned in psychiatric hospital subject to inhumane treatment, his health declines

(RSF/IFEX) - Freelance journalist Jamshid Karimov, who has been held against his will in a psychiatric hospital since September 2006, has reported in a message smuggled out to friends that his health is declining. He attributes this to the psychotropic drugs he is being given and the harassment to which he is being subjected. He complains of memory loss, difficulty concentrating and a partial loss of vision.

"Karimov should have already been released," the press freedom organisation said. "He has been held illegally for more than 10 months. The inhuman and degrading treatment to which he is being subjected is outrageous. It constitutes a serious violation of his freedom and dignity as a human being. The authorities should at the very least let him be examined by an independent doctor as soon as possible."

Karimov, who is the nephew of President Islam Karimov, disappeared in September 2006 after requesting a permit to leave the country. It emerged two weeks later that he had been interned in a psychiatric hospital in Samarkand and that a court in the provincial city of Jizzak, where he lives, had ordered that he should remain there for six months. A panel decided in March 2007 that he should remain interned for a further six months.

Karimov began being harassed in 2005 after writing a series of articles for the news website about local government corruption and the plight of peasants in the Jizzak region.

A friend said that in August 2005 Karimov was told to leave the region and not return until after the Uzbek independence day festivities in order "not to spoil the party." He refused to comply with the order, which came from Jizzak governor Ubaydulla Yamankulov and the National Security Bureau (NSB).

The following month, on 8 September 2005, a Zhiguli car twice came close to running Karimov over while he was on the sidewalk. The driver has never been identified.

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