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BBC reporter detained in Tajikistan for 'Islamist links'

June 16, 2011 - London

A BBC reporter has been detained in Tajikistan for allegedly links with a banned militant Islamic group and using his position to promote its extreme ideology.

Makhmadullo Asadulloyev, interior ministry spokesman said that BBC radio correspondent Urunbay Usmonov, 50, was detained for his membership in the illegal movement Hizb ut-Tahrir.

"Usmonov was engaged in extremist propaganda and campaigning for the movement on the internet," The Telegraph quoted Asadulloyev, as saying.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, which promotes a rigorous and puritanical brand of Islam, is legal in the UK but banned in most countries in Central Asia. It seeks to establish a global Caliphate, but rejects the use of violence to achieve this end.

The BBC expressed great concern at Usmonov's arrest and demanded his immediate release.

"Whilst Usmonov has reported on the judicial trials and activities of the Hizb ut-Tahrir party in Tajikistan at the request of the BBC, the BBC has no reason to believe these allegations," it said in a statement.

It added that Usmonov had been denied a lawyer, detained for two days without charge, and appeared to have been beaten up while under police custody.

The British Embassy also said it was "concerned" by the arrest, and has urged the Tajik authorities to clarify the situation as soon as possible.


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