Tajikistan has blocked access to the Prague-based news website Akhbr.com noting that it serves as a platform for terrorists and extremists.

Tajikistan’s Supreme Court has ruled that Akhbor.com and nahzat.ru websites should be blocked on the grounds that they offer a platform to “terrorist and extremist organizations.”

According to the Supreme Court press center, the decision to block the websites is based on the request from the Prosecutor-General’s Office issued on February 18, 2020.

“The request was made for the purpose of providing protection of the foundations of the constitutional order, national security of the Republic of Tajikistan, rights and legitimate interests of citizens, prevention of terrorist an extremist activities,” the Supreme Court press center said.

The ruling to block access to the websites entered into force on March 19.

The court ruled to block access to Akhbor.com and nahzat.ru websites, which are serving as a platform “for terrorist and extremist organizations such as the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, the National Alliance of Tajikistan and others.” 

Representatives of the Supreme Court refused to comment on the adopted decision.  

Meanwhile, founder and editor of the Akhbor.com website Mitrzo Salimpour denies the accusations as absolutely baseless, noting that the website has never had a connection to the terrorist and extremist organizations.

“Actually, access to Akhbor.com in Tajikistan was blocked in December 2017,” Salimpour said.  

According to him, more than 20 correspondents cooperating with the website have to date been summoned to the law enforcement authorities and been ordered to desist from continuing to work with Akhbor.com.

“They were all told that the website is financed by the opposition.  This accusation is absolutely unfounded.  For 3 ½ years of its activity, the website has not got a dime from the opposition parties or leaders of the opposition groups.  Our website is funded with grants from international donor organizations that support freedom of speech,” Salimpour said.  

According to him, the main reason for locking the Akhbor.com website in Tajikistan is the fact that “our website writes about high-level corruption and shortcomings in the government bodies of Tajikistan.”   

“It is one of ways of blaming independent media and it is an open attack on freedom of speech in Tajikistan,” Akhbor.com editor-in-chief said.