Research scholar and Global Voices author Alexander Sodiqov was finally reunited with his wife and daughter on July 22, after being detained for five weeks by Tajik authorities. According to the @FreeSodiqov Twitter account Alex is “not yet free to leave country, pending investigation”.
The Tajik-born University of Toronto PhD student was arrested on June 16 in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan, where he was conducting research on conflict resolution as part of an ongoing collaborative project with the University of Exeter.
Alex was interviewing Alim Sherzamonov, regional representative of the opposition Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, when he was approached and abducted by officers in plainclothes who reportedly identified themselves as state security agents. The Tajik State Committee for National Security later released a statement confirming the arrest and suggesting that Sodiqov had been involved in espionage on behalf of an unidentified foreign government.
Background: Why Conducting Academic Research in Khorog, Tajikistan is a Criminal Offense
Alexander Sodiqov is a bright scholar whose writing on Tajik and Central Asian politics bears the hallmarks of any top political analyst—rigour, insight and impartiality. He is also someone, who for all his international experience, remains committed to researching the country of his birth and conveying that knowledge to the wider world.
To understand why Tajik authorities would see a threat in someone like Alex, it is important to know that his arrest was less a show of strength and more a demonstration of weakness in a region where a weak government has a profoundly weak presence.
On June 19, the Global Voices community joined the campaign to #FreeAlexSodiqov and released this statement.
Information about the campaign
- Visit the official #FreeSodiqov campaign site (in English and Russian)
- Petition demanding his release
- Follow the #FreeAlexSodiqov hashtag
Global Voices Coverage: #FreeAlexSodiqov
- The World Shouts #FreeAlexSodiqov During Global Vigil (July 17)
- This Russian Journalist Fears ‘Spy Scares’ May Migrate North from Tajikistan (July 15)
- “How I Almost Became a Spy”: This Tajik Editor-in-Chief Considers the Absurdity of Alexander Sodiqov's Arrest (July 5)
- Solidarity from Ankara for Alexander Sodiqov's Release (July 1)
- ‘The Tajik Government Has Made an Honest Mistake': Scholars in Washington DC Discuss Alexander Sodiqov's Detention (+Audio) (July 1)
- These 5 Experts Explain Why Alexander Sodiqov's Arrest in Tajikistan Is So Troubling (June 27)
- ‘Tajikistan's Detention of Alexander Sodiqov Cuts to the Core of What Research Scholars Do’ (June 27)
- Tajikistan's GBAO Region – an Incredible Place (June 26)
- Alexander Sodiqov Is Not the First Person to Be Arrested in Tajikistan for Doing His Job (June 23)
- Tajik Government Silent on “Disappeared” Global Voices Contributor (June 19)
- Tajik Authorities Detain Global Voices Contributor (June 18)
Support for Alex: Organizations
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe: OSCE media freedom representative concerned about disappearance of blogger in Tajikistan (June 18)
Human Rights Watch: Tajikistan: Free or Charge Researcher (June 19)
Amnesty International: Tajikistan: PhD Student Arrested, Held Incommunicado: Alexander Sodiqov (June 19)
Get to Know Alex: Through His Writing on Global Voices