The OSCE's media freedom representative on Friday slammed the prosecution for slander of two journalists in Uzbekistan, urging the country's authorities to loosen restrictions on press freedoms.
In a statement, Dunja Mijatovic, of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said she was "alarmed by the unrelenting judicial pressure exerted on independent journalists in Uzbekistan.
"The press freedom situation in Uzbekistan continues to deteriorate, and I urge the authorities to reverse this trend," she added.
In a letter to Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov, Mijatovic raised the cases of Abdulmalik Boboyev, a reporter with Voice of America (VOA) radio; and Russian journalist Vladimir Berezovsky, editor of the website vesti.uz. Both are being prosecuted for slander.
International human rights groups say the majority-Muslim country often uses charges of extremism or slander to silence dissent.
Mijatovic also expressed concern about three other journalists, Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov, Dilmurod Sayid and Khairullo Khamidov.
They have been jailed for between six and 12 and a half years on charges including drug possession and extortion.
"Non state-media in Uzbekistan continue to be the target of unrelenting judicial harassment and this is a matter of serious concern to me," she said.
"It is my duty to remind the Uzbek authorities that journalists should be free to pursue their professional activities without hindrance in line with OSCE media freedom commitments and principles."