Last edited: October 31, 2004

Gay Journalist Given Asylum in U.S., October 27, 2004

By Newscenter Staff

New York City—Ruslan Sharipov a gay journalist and human rights advocate who was imprisoned for a year in Uzbekistan has been granted asylum in the United States.

Sharipov 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 behind bars in a prison near Tashkent, the capital, 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.

He was released last week after the US government agreed to take him in. Sharipov arrived here late last week the World Association of Newspapers announced today.

“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,” said Kajsa Tornroth, director of press freedom programs for WAN.

Sharipov’s imprisonment attracted widespread international criticism. In May he was awarded the Golden Pen of Freedom Award from the Paris-based WAN.

Sharipov told the BBC’s Uzbek Service that he now plans to write about what he witnessed in prison in Uzbekistan.

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