BBC reporter set for release in Tajikistan: officials

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Tajik authorities said Thursday they would shortly release a local BBC reporter pending his trial on charges of failing to disclose details about Islamist militants to the state.

Urunbay Usmonov, a correspondent for the BBC's Central Asia service, will be released on a written pledge not to leave the capital before trial, a Tajik prosecution official said.

"This means that the reporter will be released from the pre-trial detention facility shortly," spokesman for the prosecutor general's office, Abdusami Dadabayev, told AFP.

No trial data has been announced.

Usmonov, 60, was arrested in June on suspicion of membership of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an outlawed group in the secular Muslim states of ex-Soviet Central Asia.

Those charges were later dropped, with the reporter instead accused of failing to provide the authorities with details he had learned through work about Hizb ut-Tahrir's activities.

His detention was contested by the BBC and condemned by his relatives, while the rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders said there was "little doubt" that Usmonov was arrested for his journalistic activities.

Usmonov has previously covered sensitive Tajik issues including the construction of a controversial dam.

Tajik authorities said earlier this week they had closed their investigation in the case and presented all the evidence personally to President Emomali Rakhmon for review.

© 2011 AFP

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