Bekjanov, Muhammad

Gender: .
State of concern: .

Who, Why and How exiled:

In the years following the fall of the Soviet Union, Bekjanov and his brother published the Erk (Freedom) newspaper, which advocated for democracy. When Islam Karimov came to power, he banned Erk in 1994. Bekjanov and his family fled to his wife's home country, Ukraine, where he continued as a pro-democracy activist (Bearak, 2017).

Category of exile: . (Definitions here.)
Alleged affiliation: Erk Party, Journalist.

Father of the US-based journalist Aygul Bekjan.

Which stages experienced: not Stage 1   not Stage 2   Stage 3. (Definitions here.)
Date of most serious incident: 1999.
Violence experienced: .

Stage 3 details (attack/ abduction/ rendition/ torture/ assassination/ death):

Following a series of bombings in the Uzbek capital Tashkent in 1999, Karimov rounded up and jailed dozens of dissidents. Bekjanov was kidnapped from his home in Ukraine and extradited to Uzbekistan, where he was swiftly put on trial. His testimony included allegations that he was forced through torture to confess involvement in the bombings (Bearak, 2017).

Other actions during Stages 1–3 (dispossession/ overseas assets frozen/ intimidation/ action against associates/ …):

Bekjanov's wife was permitted to visit him about seven years into his sentence, she reported that he was still subject to brutal beatings in prison, which had caused him to lose all of his teeth. One of his legs was broken and received no treatment. He was deaf in one ear and hard-of-hearing in the other (Bearak 2017).

International arrest warrant: .

Countries of transit, asylum and/or residence: , .

Current status:

In 2017 he has been released from prison. His family were working with the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan to obtain a visa that would allow for the reunification of their family in the United States (Bearak, 2017). In July 2018 he received permission to leave for the US and was reunited with his family in Spokane (The Spokesman Review, July 2018).

Bekjanov published a book about his experiences in prison (Fergana News, July 2018) and plans to continue to serve the Uzbek community as an independent journalist and an inadvertent advocate for political reform and rehabilitation in Uzbekistan (RSF, September 2018).

Press sources:

Bearak, M. (2017. "An Uzbek journalist spent 18 years in jail. Today, he’s free". The Washington Post, 22.02.2017. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 22 May, 2018]

The Spokesman Review, July 2018 ‘After 18 Years’ Imprisonment, Uzbek Journalist Reunited with Family in Spokane | The Spokesman-Review’ [accessed 24 March 2019].

Fergana News, July 2018 ‘«По Ту Сторону Страха» и Океана. Мухаммад Бекжан - о Книге, Аресте и Допросах в СИЗО’ (Фергана.Ру) [accessed 24 March 2019].

RSF, September 2018 ‘US, Uzbekistan — RSF Welcomes Muhammad Bekjanov, Once the World’s Longest-Detained Journalist, to Washington | Reporters without Borders’ (RSF, 21 September 2018) [accessed 24 March 2019].