An exiled dissident author who returned to Uzbekistan this week only to be arrested on arrival is facing charges of promoting extremism in his writings. Authorities are basing their case on a book by Nurullo Otakhonov published in 2016, Bu Kunlar (“These Days”), which dwells on the shortcomings of life Uzbekistan since the country gained independence. The book is also critical of the late president, Islam Karimov. In addition to that, Otakhonov is accused of trying to smuggle banned books and discs into the country.
Otakhonov, 62, who writes under the pen-name of Nurullo Muhammad Raufkhon, is being held at the Tashkent’s Yashnabad district police station. Police told the writer’s relatives to hire a lawyer, suggesting that he is likely to be in custody for the long haul. RFE/RL’s Uzbek service, Radio Ozodlik, cited Otakhonov’s wife as saying the detention was prompted by the content of Bu Kunlar, which is included in a list of written works banned by the government.
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