The United States has been speaking out about the importance of press freedom and the many journalists around the world who have been jailed, attacked, disappeared, and forced into exile or murdered for reporting the truth.
One of these is Dilmurod Sayid, an independent Uzbek journalist who was sentenced to twelve-and-a-half years in prison in July 2009 following a closed trial that failed to meet international standards. Mr. Sayid often reported on corruption and the abuse of power by local authorities. In February 2009, Uzbek authorities detained Mr. Sayid on charges of extortion and bribery, which were widely believed to be fabricated. He is currently serving his sentence in the Navoi high-security prison in central Uzbekistan. Mr. Sayid suffers from tuberculosis, which requires special medication and treatment.
The United States calls on the Uzbek government to release Mr. Sayid, to ensure appropriate medical treatment for him immediately while he remains in custody, and to allow independent journalists to work in Uzbekistan without fear of violence or persecution.
Another journalist imprisoned for his work is Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Hai, better known as Dieu Cay. He is creator of the popular blog “BlogDieuCay” and has written about human rights and corruption in Vietnam, including sensitive topics such as land rights and religious freedom. Vietnamese authorities arrested him in April 2008 in Ho Chi Minh City on charges of property tax evasion. In December 2008, a Vietnamese court convicted him in a closed door trial despite evidence that the police prevented his ex-wife from paying the taxes.
Dieu Cay was scheduled to be released in October 2010 after completing his prison term, but Vietnamese authorities instead held him in investigative detention and subsequently charged him along with two other bloggers, Phan Thanh Hai and Ta Phong Tan, with so-called propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. He faces up to twenty years in prison. Dieu Cay’s 2008 arrest coincided with a mass crackdown on citizen journalism, and a decree to restrict Internet freedom, and censor private blogs. These restrictions continue. The United States calls on the government of Vietnam to release Dieu Cay.
Journalists everywhere, said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Michael Posner, “ought to be able to report freely, without constraints, [and] without fear for their own physical safety.”