Uzbek Government Says Jailed Gay Journalist Won’t Be Amnestied
Associated Press, December
authorities said Monday a gay journalist jailed in a case that drew
international criticism was ineligible for a wide-ranging amnesty declared by
President Islam Karimov this month.
The chief of staff of the prisons system, Mikhail
Gurevich, said Ruslan Sharipov could not be pardoned because his crime was
grave. The amnesty covers those convicted of minor crimes, women sentenced for
the first time and elderly, minor and foreign convicts.
Surat Ikramov, a human rights activist and one of
Sharipov’s defenders, said the decision was “unacceptable” and that the
amnesty should apply because an appeals court had cleared Sharipov of the most
serious of the three charges on which he was convicted in August.
Sharipov, who is openly gay , was convicted of sodomy,
having sex with minors and involving minors into anti-social behavior and
sentenced to 5 1/2 years. An appeals court overturned the last charge and
reduced the jail term to four years.
His case has drawn much attention from international
media and human rights groups who say he was persecuted for his criticism of
In an interview from prison last month Sharipov said had
been forced to confess through torture and threats.
A pardon for Sharipov also has been sought by the U.S.,
which has dramatically increased its engagement with this former Soviet
republic after deploying troops in Uzbekistan to back up military operations
in neighboring Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan has long been internationally criticized for
its poor human rights record, including putting more than 6,000 political
prisoners in jails where dozens of people have reportedly died of torture over
the past half-decade.
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