BBC reporter Usmonov released from Tajik jail on bail

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Urunboy Usmonov
Image caption,
Urunboy Usmonov suffers from diabetes and a heart condition

A BBC reporter detained last month in Tajikistan has been released on bail.

Urunboy Usmonov, 59, was picked up by his family from the detention centre in the northern city of Khujand.

He told the BBC he was feeling tired, but thanked those who supported him.

The prosecutor general said earlier Mr Usmonov was eligible for bail, but still faced criminal prosecution for alleged association with the banned Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. The BBC says the allegations are unfounded.


Mr Usmonov was released from custody on Thursday and picked up by his family.

Soon afterwards, he told the BBC Uzbek service that he was feeling tired and needed some rest.

His son, Oibek, told the BBC that he was immensely glad to be home again.

"This is a great joy to us all after all we have been through," he said. "He sends a massive thank you to everyone for all their support."

Tajik Prosecutor General Sherkhon Salimzoda earlier said that prosecutors "have studied a criminal case against Usmonov and come to the conclusion that they can continue conducting the case without keeping the accused in custody", Tajikistan's Asia-Plus website reported.

"I just have signed a relevant decision and today, by close of business, Usmonov will be released under a written undertaking not to leave the country," the prosecutor-general added.

The BBC's Global News director Peter Horrocks said the BBC was "encouraged that Tajik authorities have considered our appeals".

"As we have said all along, we believe Urunboy is innocent and all he was doing was his journalistic work for the BBC. We know that his family and friends are delighted to have Urunboy back and are appreciative of the support from colleagues at the BBC and around the world," Mr Horrocks added.

Mr Usmonov, who suffers from a heart condition and diabetes, was arrested in June and held in the northern city of Khujand.

His family was later allowed a brief visit with him and expressed concern about his health. They said it appeared he had been beaten.

Hamid Ismailov, from the BBC Central Asian service, also visited his colleague and said Mr Usmonov was both physically and psychologically frail.

BBC journalists have held vigils in London to demand Mr Usmonov's release.

Mr Usmonov has worked for the BBC Central Asian Service for 10 years.

He has said he met Hizb ut-Tahrir members as part of his work reporting on the group, which is active across Central Asia.

The lobby group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, has condemned the arrest as an attempt to censor coverage of sensitive political and religious issues.