Last edited: June 20, 2004

Uzbekistan Delays Gay Prisoner’s Release, June 12, 2004

By Newscenter Staff

Tashkent—Civil rights protestors, demonstrating against a delay in releasing a gay journalist held since last year in a Uzbekistan jail, were beaten by a security officer Saturday.

Ruslan Sharipov a gay journalist and human rights advocate was arrested after doing a series of articles on human rights abuses in the former soviet republic. He was charged with sodomy and having sex with minors in what international human rights groups have labeled politically motivated allegations.

Last year Sharipov pleaded guilty and later told foreign journalists he had been tortured into making a false confession.

He was sentenced to 5 1/2 years but an appeals court reduced the jail term to four years.

Officials allowed Sharipov last year to speak with foreign journalists and told them he had been tortured and was being kept in a tiny cell.

This spring the government said that Sharipov could be freed this weekend, under a presidential amnesty.

Human rights advocates and supporters gathered outside the prison to wait for him. Instead of setting Sharipov free, a prison spokesperson said that his release had been delayed.

Col. Ludmila Nam that authorities had up to a month to assemble a commission to review Sharipov’s case. They will refer their findings to a court for a decision, but he said no date had been set for that to happen.

The group of supporters was then dispersed by a plainclothes security officer, who pulled banners from their hands and broke them over his knee, shouting gay epithets as other police looked on.

Sharipov’s case has attracted widespread international criticism, and last month he was awarded the 2004 Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers.

[Home] [World] [Uzbekistan]