EU urges Tajikistan to free up internet

Indo Asian News Service

Dushanbe, Dec 7 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The European Union has called on Tajikistan to respect the independence of the internet amid concerns of a crackdown against freedom of expression.

The statement comes after Tajikistan's blocking last week of popular social networking site Facebook over complaints of "slanderous" content.

Tajikistan unblocked access to Facebook Tuesday.

The country previously also blocked file-sharing site YouTube, as well as the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty affiliate Radio Ozodi.

"Although some of the blocked websites are again accessible, the EU Delegation notes with concern that such obstruction occurs frequently in Tajikistan which raises questions about the state of media freedom," said a statement posted on the website of the EU Delegation to Tajikistan.

Tajik authorities have sought in recent years to crack down on what they say is creeping religious extremism throughout the predominantly Islamic country, which suffered a civil war in the 1990s between Islamic groups and President Emomali Rakhmon's supporters.

The Rakhmon administration has come under criticism for alleged corruption and undemocratic practices.

--IANS/RIA Novosti