Sat, 22 Feb 2020

Tajik police have decided not to open a criminal probe to find the perpetrators behind a sex video shared online in an apparent smear campaign against a woman activist.

The copy of a letter issued by the Vahdat district police in Dushanbe says authorities will not open a criminal case "because there have been no criminal elements found in the actions" of the man who also appears in the video.

The activist, whose name is being withheld, told RFE/RL on January 19 that the police statement "doesn't make any sense" and doesn't address her formal request.

"What I asked police was to find out who has recorded and distributed the video and why," the Dushanbe-based activist and human rights campaigner said.

The video, which was shared online in September, shows the woman's face clearly, while the man's face is blurred out.

The activist had been dating the man for several months and they had planned to marry before the video was published. He vanished after it was released online. The woman said she is "highly suspicious" of the man.

The video was swiftly removed by YouTube and Facebook, while it took several weeks for Russian social media and several other sites to delete the footage.

The video has been condemned by Tajik activists as an attempt to defame the woman in the religiously conservative Tajik society and silence other critics of the state.

The footage was released after the woman joined a campaign against an unpopular plan by the government to raise the price of Internet access in Tajikistan. The plan has since been scrapped.

Tajik authorities show no tolerance for free speech or criticism of the government.

The woman was also targeted with degrading digitally altered images, insulting comments, and threats on Facebook.

She filed a complaint to the Prosecutor-General's Office and the Interior Ministry to find and bring to justice those responsible for recording and disseminating the video.

Police had initially said they were considering opening a probe to potentially charge perpetrators with illegally spreading degrading material about a person's private life.

RFE/RL has contacted both state agencies for comment but officials refused to speak, saying they would only respond to an "official letter."

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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