The Media Council of Tajikistan considers that sentencing of Khairullo Mirsaidov will impede the process of development of freedom of speech and civil society in Tajikistan.  

In a statement released on July 14, the Media Council expressed serious concern about the sentence handed down to Khairullo Mirsaidov by the Khujand city court.  

Representatives of the Media Council say they do not want to discuss the verdict but they do not consider that the verdict is fair and meets the Constitution requirements.

According to them, the court did not take into consideration the fact that Mirsaidov had wanted to prevent “the corruption actions” and expressed his civic stand.    

“The court ruling will shake belief in freedom of speech and the possibility of criticism of crimes in our democratic society.  It seems that the trial of Khairullo Mirsaidov, who wanted to draw attention of the authorities to the problems of corruption and extortion, has become a kind of punishment for statement of his point of view.” 

Recall, the Khujand city court on July 11 found Khairullo Mirsaidov guilty on three counts — embezzlement, forging documents and providing false testimony — and sentenced him to 12 years in prison.

Mirsaidov’s lawyers called the verdict "unfair," and said they will appeal it.

In a statement released on July 12, Tajik chief prosecutor’s office said that the verdict had yet to enter legal force and Mirsaidov would have the opportunity to appeal.  Prosecutors warned, however, that critical reporting of the verdict could itself constitute a criminal offense.  “Discussion and criticism of the verdict by mass media can be regarded as obstruction of justice and is in violation of journalistic ethics,” Tajik chief prosecutor’s office said.

Meanwhile, the embassies of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the United States in Dushanbe and the EU Delegation to Tajikistan have expressed their common grave concern over the trial of the independent journalist Khairullo Mirsaidov.  In a statement released on July 11, they note, “We understand Mr. Mirsaidov has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.  We believe this sentence is extremely harsh, incomparable with the crime he was accused of.”  They say the sentence will have a negative impact on the freedom of media and expression in Tajikistan, and they “strongly urge the relevant authorities in the Republic of Tajikistan to re-consider this verdict.”

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, also expressed his concern about an excessive sentence of 12 years in a penal colony handed down to Khairullo Mirsaidov by a court in Tajikistan.  On July 11, he called on the Tajik authorities to immediately release Khairullo Mirsaidov and to ensure that journalists in Tajikistan are free to report on all matters of public interest without fear of reprisal.