A court in the city of Fergana sentenced the brother of Acting Turkmen Service Director Farruh Yusupov to 8 years in prison on drug-related charges, the latest government action involving persons affiliated with the Uzbek Service (until recently, Yusupov was an editor for the Uzbek Service).
In court proceedings, Aziz Yusupov was represented by a lawyer assigned to him by Uzbekistan’s National Security Service (formerly the KGB), whom Yusupov’s family said persuaded him to make a false confession to mollify the court. During the one-day trial, no evidence was brought against Yusupov to corroborate the charges.
Earlier that week, agents with Uzbekistan’s National Security Service seized an apartment in Tashkent owned by another Uzbek Service employee; in recent months, Uzbek authorities have also interrogated the family members of other RFE/RL employees about their relatives’ journalistic work. On at least four occasions, family members of Uzbek Service correspondents have been denied exit visas—a Soviet practice still required in Uzbekistan—to leave the country.
Yusupov was targeted in an earlier incident in March 2013, when state security agents confiscated his state-issued ID, computer, and other personal documents, citing his brother’s work for RFE/RL and an interview Yusupov gave to its Uzbek Service. During their interrogations of Yusupov, Uzbek agents accused RFE/RL of slandering Uzbekistan.