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IFJ/EFJ Deeply Concerned For Well-being of Missing Uzbek Journalist

27 September 2013

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) have expressed their deep concern for the safety and well-being of Uzbek journalist Sergey Naumov who has reportedly been detained by police in western Uzbekistan since last Saturday, 21 September.

According to IFJ/EFJ affiliate, the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ), freelance journalist Naumov is believed to have been arrested in the city of Urgench and detained in police custody. The RUJ says that Naumov, who is well known for his reporting on human rights in Uzbekistan and forced labour in the country's cotton industry, made a call to friends to say he was being detained by police and to ask for help. However, police in Urgench deny they are holding him and his phone is turned off.

"We are deeply concerned for the health and well-being of the highly respected Uzbek journalist Sergey Naumov and if he is being held by local police we call on the authorities in Uzbekistan to make his family, colleagues and the public aware that he has been arrested and provide an explanation for his detainment," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.

Naumov, who has been working for regional news agency Ferghana.ru and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, is believed to have been collecting information on child labour ahead of this year's cotton picking season.
The RUJ has expressed its outrage at what it believes to be, to its knowledge, an "unmotivated arrest" of a "professional and dignified" journalist. The union has called for authorities in the country to release Naumov if the charges against him are false, or ensure he gets a fair trial under the supervision of international organisations.

"Naumov is known for writing sensitive articles regarding the issue of forced labour in Uzbekistan and has received many threats about his journalistic work," said EFJ President Mogens Blicher-Bjerregård.
"If it emerges that he has been arrested in reprisal for his work as a journalist then this will further undermine freedom of expression and media freedom in Uzbekistan. Naumov must be released with immediate effect if this is the case."

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries