Journalist and poet Narzullo Akhunzhonov was detained by Ukrainian border guards on 20 September, following an Interpol Red Notice requested by Uzbekistan. He remains remanded in custody, pending a formal extradition request from the Uzbekistani authorities. If forcibly returned to Uzbekistan, he would be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. On 20 September, the Ukrainian border authorities detained Uzbekistani journalist and poet Narzullo Akhunzhonov at Kyiv Zhulyany airport. He had arrived with his wife and five children on a flight from Istanbul, Turkey. The family had lived as asylum-seekers in Turkey since 2013, after Narzullo Akhunzhonov was forced to flee Uzbekistan to escape arbitrary detention and prosecution for his critical investigative journalism. In Turkey, Narzullo Akhunzhonov believed he continued to be monitored by the National Security Service of Uzbekistan (SNB) and received death threats in connection with his work as a critical journalist. Fearing for the safety of his family, Narzullo Akhunzhonov decided to flee to Ukraine and ask for protection there. His application for asylum in Ukraine is currently under consideration. In detention, Narzullo Akhunzhonov learned that the reason for his arrest is an Interpol Red Notice, requested by Uzbekistan in 2014, in relation to a fraud case dating from 2009. Narzullo Akhunzhonov has always denied the accusations, and has said that the authorities brought the case against him in order to punish him for his investigative work into allegations of torture by SNB officers. The authorities in Uzbekistan commonly request Interpol Red Notices against political opposition activists and independent journalists abroad, in order to prosecute them on fabricated and politically-motivated charges. On 27 September, the Solomyanskyi District Court in Kyiv remanded Narzullo Akhunzhonov in custody for 40 days pending the receipt of a formal extradition request from the Uzbekistani authorities. If forcibly returned to Uzbekistan, he would be at risk of human rights violations immediately upon return, including incommunicado detention, torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trial and imprisonment in conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. According to his family, Narzullo Akhunzhonov’s vision is rapidly deteriorating. He requires urgent medical attention. The next appeal hearing in relation to his remand is scheduled for 19 October. Please write immediately in Ukrainian or your own language:
Do not extradite Narzullo Akhunzhonov Skriv ut
I urge the State Migration Service to take all necessary steps to ensure Narzullo Akhunzhonov is not extradited or in any other way forcibly returned to Uzbekistan, where he is at risk of arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment.
I also urge the Solomyanskyi Prosecutor’s Office to request an immediate release of Narzullo Akhunzhonov as he appears to be under an Interpol Red Notice solely because of his work as a critical journalist.
Finally I call on the State Penitentiary Service to ensure Narzullo Akhunzhonov’s rights are fully respected while in detention, including regular access to the medical treatment he requires.
Skriv innan den 22 november till: Head of State Migration Service Maksym Sokolyiuk Volodymyrska 9 Kyiv, 01001 Ukraine Email: email@example.com Salutation: Dear Head of State Migration Service