Uzbek Foreign Ministry Apologizes To Polish Journalist Who Complained Of Sexual Harassment

TASHKENT — Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry has apologized to a Polish journalist who accused one of the ministry’s officers of sexual harassment and pressuring her to write positive articles about the Central Asian nation in exchange for having her press accreditation prolonged.

The ministry also said on February 2 that the employee who was accused of sexually harassing journalist Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska had been fired.

Pikulicka-Wilczewska, an independent journalist who has worked for The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Diplomat, and Eurasianet, said on Twitter on February 1 that several requests to extend her press accreditation had been rejected over the past six months. She said the Foreign Ministry official dealing with her case had subjected her to sexual harassment, behavior that continued online.

The case triggered outrage and calls for Tashkent to investigate, including from Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director of Human Rights Watch, and Tim Torlot, the British ambassador to Uzbekistan.

In a Twitter post on February 2, Pikulicka-Wilczewska said that she had been informed that her accreditation would be prolonged and thanked everyone who supported her.

“I would like to thank each one of you who supported me in this ridiculous struggle. I’ve received massive support from everyone online and offline. You guys made it happen. I hope that together we will continue punishing Rustams all across Uzbekistan. You are the power,” Pikulicka-Wilczewska wrote.

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