A leading international media organization was accused on Thursday of meddling in the politics of Uzbekistan while two of its local employees were found guilty of criminal activities.
A Tashkent district court convicted two employees of Internews Network of a conspiracy to engage in unlicensed production of TV programming and illegal publishing — a crime punishable by up to six months in prison. Internews and its employees denied the charges.
In delivering his verdict to a closed court, the judge said that Internews had “started meddling in the politics of Uzbekistan and in the politics of the president and that’s why the proceedings were instituted."
Internews Network, a US-based non-profit media development organization working in over fifty countries, began operations in Uzbekistan in 1995 where it has helped develop the country’s independent, private television stations through trainings, technical assistance and support of local news and information programming.
Because the defendants are women, they were automatically eligible for a presidential amnesty so will not serve time in jail. But they will have criminal records.
Many of the most influential people in Uzbekistan's media have been trained by Internews, whose projects in Uzbekistan have been supported by the US Agency for International Development and EuropeAid (the international aid branches of the United States and the European Union, respectively) and the US State Department.
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