Tajik journalist Khairullo Mirsaidov says he has left Tajikistan due to security reasons.  Besides, he considers that he will have more opportunities outside Tajikistan to earn money to pay fine imposed on him.  

The Khujand city court sentenced Khairullo Mirsaidov in absentia to eight months in prison on January 11 for breaching a court order and illegally leaving the country.

Mirsaidov says he has been in Georgia for already three months to get medical treatment.

“First of all, I left the country due to security reasons (Mirsaidov did not clarify what his concerns are about – Asia-Plus).  Besides, I will have more opportunities outside Tajikistan to earn money to pay the fine,” Mirsaidov said.  

He also noted that he is going to continue working in journalism.

Recall, Mirsaidov was arrested in December 2017 on financial charges.  Mirsaidov said the charges were filed in retaliation for his critical reporting about government corruption.

Mirsaidov’s arrest brought condemnation from domestic and international groups -- including Reporters without Borders, the National Association of Independent Mass Media of Tajikistan (Nannsmit), Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International.

Amnesty International at the time described him as “a prisoner of conscience who is being punished solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.”

On July 11, 2018, Mirsaidov was sentenced to twelve years in prison after being found guilty of embezzling and misusing state funds and of making false reports to police.

Mirsaidov was released from prison in August 2018, after his family paid 124,000 somoni to the national budget as compensation for damage that was reportedly caused by Mirsaidov to state.  His sentence was converted to a US$8,500 fine and community service.

Mirsaidov was ordered to pay the state 20 percent of any official salary he receives in Tajikistan for the next two years.

Meanwhile, Mirsaidov said he was unhappy with the court's ruling and insisted he should be acquitted of all charges, rather than having to face a fine and restrictions on his ability to earn a living in the future.

Mirsaidov is an independent journalist and a former correspondent of Asia-Plus news agency and Germany's Deutsche Welle radio.

He also led the Tajik team for KVN, a stand-up comedy competition that originated among university students in the Soviet Union and is still popular in many former Soviet republics.