A VOA Uzbek Service journalist, Abdulmalik Boboev, was fined more than $10,000 last Friday by an Uzbek court that convicted him of slander, insult and publishing information harmful to the public peace. A lawyer for Mr. Boboev, who pled not guilty and denied doing anything wrong, said his client is considering an appeal of the verdict.
According to a VOA statement, VOA Director Danforth W. Austin said, "We are reviewing the decision by the Uzbek court. We are pleased that Mr. Boboev wasn't sentenced to jail. However, we remain concerned that his work as a journalist has resulted in a substantial fine. We will continue to follow his case, and hope that he will be able to continue providing fair, comprehensive and accurate reports to our audience without fear of retaliation."
The 41 year-old Mr. Boboev was among several journalists summoned by the Prosecutor-General's Office last year for questioning about their journalistic activities.
After the judge’s decision Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent released a statement saying it was, “Concerned about the implications of this case for the state of media freedom in Uzbekistan.” U.S. officials had raised the case with the Uzbek government and sent American diplomats to observe the trial.
Over the last two years, Uzbekistan has jailed eight reporters.