DUSHANBE, August 14, Asia-Plus — In addition to two charges brought against them, three female reporters for the tabloid newspaper Ovoza , Farangis Nabiyeva, Muhayo Nozimova, and Saida Qurbonova (editor of Ovoza ), could face another charge under Article 144 of Tajikistan’s Criminal Code – illegal collection and spread of information about private life, Asia-Plus has learned at the Dushanbe prosecutor’s office.

The first deputy Dushanbe prosecutor, Sayfddin Mahsiddinov, told Asia-Plus that a prosecutor’s office in Dushanbe’s Firdavsi district, which is currently investigating this case, would probably bring this charge against the reporters.  

We will recall that Farangis Nabiyeva and Muhayo Nozimova coauthored the critical article of singer Raihona titled “Raihona pi-pi-pi Afghoniston” (Ovoza, # 25, June 21, 2007).  

On July 11, Raihona lodged an application to the Dushanbe city prosecutor’s office, claiming the article by Muhayo Nozimova and Farangis Nabiyeva had allegedly defamed her.  The journalists face charges under Article 135, Part 2 (defamation) and 136, Part, Point “A” (insult) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code.  

If convicted, the journalists could face up to two years in prison on each of these charges.   

The deputy prosecutor noted that the singer had also sent a letter to the president and the parliament, and “we have copies of this letter .”

Mahsiddinov further added that the possibility of “peaceful settlement of the problem” cannot be ruled.  “If the journalists apologize to the singer and she accepts the apology, the problem will be settled,”  Mahsiddinov said.     

The deputy prosecutor confirmed that they had received an appeal from five media groups, in which the media groups called on the president’s administration and the Prosecutor-General’s Office to stop prosecuting journalists for their professional activity.   

Mahsiddinov also noted that charges would be probably brought against the primary source of the critical article of Raihona. 

The Ovoza editor Saida Qurbonova noted that in their article, the reporters referred to the website www.mynet.tj as the primary source.   “If this article violates the legislation, why they did not institute criminal proceedings against this website,” she said.  Qurbonova is sure that she and her correspondents did not violate the legislation and said that they will dispute their rightness in court.  

The journalists’ defense layer Inoyat Inoyatov considers that the case of protection of honor and dignity should be considered within the framework of the civil legal proceedings.