A journalist for the Voice of Freedom and fergananews.com and a human rights activist, Askarov published several reports uncovering abuse and killings by police officers.
The 69-year-old was arrested on June 15, 2010 following ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. He was convicted in September 2010 for alleged " incitement to ethnic hatred, organising mass disorder, and complicity in a policeman' murder." He was given a life sentence despite an appeal.
On April 21, 2016, UN experts called on Kyrgyzstan to immediately release Azimjon Askarov on the basis that he had been "arbitrarily detained, held in inhumane conditions, tortured and mistreated, and prevented from adequately preparing his trial defense".
Askarov had lately been witnessed as being of poor health. The official cause of his death in prison was recorded as severe pneumonia.
The IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: "Azimjon Askarov has paid the terrible price for telling the truth in Kyrgyzstan. Under which circumstances was he held in prison? What measures were taken to cure his pain? We demand a full investigation into his death."