Jailed Uzbek Journalist Gets Asylum in U.S.
October 28, 2004
By Ben Townley, Gay.com U.K.
SUMMARY: Ruslan Sharipov, the
journalist imprisoned in Uzbekistan for homosexuality to the anger of human
rights workers worldwide, has been granted asylum in the United States.
Ruslan Sharipov, the journalist imprisoned in Uzbekistan
for homosexuality to the anger of human rights workers worldwide, has been
granted asylum in the United States.
According to a press release from the World Association
of Newspapers (WAN), Sharipov was released last week after the United States
agreed to offer him sanctuary.
Sharipov’s case has received international media
attention, with civil and human rights organizations as well as international
lesbian and gay groups calling for his release.
He was originally arrested under sodomy laws that dated
back to the country’s Soviet rule, but was also quickly charged with having
sex with minors.
Human rights groups at the time claimed that this charge
was fabricated in a bid to discourage international press interest in the
story. They claimed the allegations were politically motivated, since Sharipov
had criticized the Uzbek government in the past.
Despite continually denying the charges, Sharipov
dismissed his lawyer and “admitted” his guilt last year. He later said he
was forced to sign the confession as a result of ongoing torture and abuse.
Speaking in a statement Wednesday afternoon, WAN’s
director of press freedom programs, Kajsa Tornroth, said the group was
relieved at the asylum offer.
“We are relieved that Mr. Sharipov is beyond the reach
of the Uzbek authorities, and we hope that he can one day return to a free and
democratic Uzbekistan,” Tornroth said.
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