An Uzbek reporter for German broadcaster said Wednesday he faces up to 10 years in prison after being accused of defaming President Islam Karimov.
Yuri Chernogayev said Uzbek prosecutors also charged him with tax evasion and "illegal dissemination of information threatening public security and order."
"This is a provocation with many episodes," he told The Associated Press by telephone from the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. "They want other journalists to watch out and shut up."
Chernogayev, who works for Deutsche Welle, said he was told to stay in his apartment until the trial begins next week.
The Central Asian nation is tightly controlled by Karimov, a former Communist boss who has eliminated opposition and silenced critics.
An international media watchdog, meanwhile, urged authorities to be "lenient and reasonable" with Chernogayev.
"This is a travesty of justice designed to silence those working for foreign media," the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in a statement posted on its Web site.
Uzbek authorities stepped up pressure on journalists two years ago after government troops opened fire on a crowd of mostly peaceful protesters in Andijan, a city in the east of the country, killing at least 700 people, according to rights groups and witnesses.
In the months after the uprising, Karimov's government closed the local offices of the British Broadcasting Corp.; U.S.-funded Radio Freedom/Radio Liberty and a dozen U.S.-funded aid groups, two of which worked to promote free media.
Several journalists working for foreign media in the former Soviet republic have also been jailed or beaten.
Last Mod: 24 Mayıs 2007, 16:43