Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda has refuted information about use of torture against him and pleaded guilty to the charge brought against and once again stressed he did not make this confession because of torture, Pirmuhamamdzoda’s defense lawyer, Muhabbatshoh Ballayev, told reporters in Dushanbe yesterday after reviewing the case and talking to his client.  

Abdusattor’s relatives had previously said that “he agreed to plead his guilty under torture, but actually considers himself innocent.”  

Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda was detained in Vahdat Township on July 9.  He had been charged with publicly calling for extremist activities.  If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison.    

Pirmuhammadzoda worked at the state-owned radio station Sadoi Dushanbe (Voice of Dushanbe) until 2019, when he quit after reportedly being given the choice between moderating his critical reporting and resigning.

Pirmuhammadzoda has reportedly published his personal views on free speech and alleged government injustices on his YouTube channel, where he has about 39,000 subscribers.

Abdulloh Ghurbati reportedly also pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him.  A reliable source reportedly told Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi, that Ghurbati confessed under duress two weeks before sentencing.

Ghurbati was sentenced on October 4 to 7 1/2 years in prison on charges of publicly insulting an authority, minor assault of an authority, and participating in the activities of an extremist group.  The trial was held behind closed doors.  According to Ghurbati’s defense lawyer, Abdulloh pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

Meanwhile one of officers of the Dushanbe-based pretrial detention facility on October 12 told Radio Ozodi on the basis anonymity that “police officers forced Abdulloh to repent of what he had done in front of the video camera.”

Ghurbati reportedly agreed to give a confession in the video in front of the video camera after they promised him release in the courtroom.  

Meanwhile, prosecutor asked a court in Shohmansour district on October 12 to sentence noted Tajik blogger Daler Imomali to 10 ½ in prison on charges of illegal entrepreneurship, premeditated false denunciation, and cooperating with a terrorist group. 

Imomali's trial, which started on October 7, is being held behind closed doors inside a pretrial detention center in Dushanbe.

Imomali has pleaded guilty to the illegal entrepreneurship charge but rejected the other two.

Known for his articles critical of the government, Daler Imomali was detained along with noted journalist Abdulloh Ghurbati on June 15.

International groups have called on the Tajik government to release the reporters and end its campaign against the free press.

Ranked 152nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Tajikistan has fallen 36 places in the index since 2015.