Last edited: November 05, 2003

Gay Journalist Tortured Into Confession, November 3, 2003

By Newscenter Staff

Tashkent—A gay journalist and human rights advocate says he was tortured by prison guards in Uzbeckistant into confessing to charges of sodomy and called the case against him a crude fabrication designed to silence him and other critics of the Uzbeck regime.

Ruslan Sharipov was allowed to speak to reporters from the west for the first time Monday. Sharipov was sentenced to four years in prison in September after an August trial that human rights advocates called a sham.

Sharipov, who is openly gay, was found guilty of having homosexual sex—illegal in Uzbekistan under laws dating back to Soviet times—and also of having sex with minors.

The trial ended abruptly after Sharipov without warning dismissed his lawyer and changed his plea to guilty.

Today, he said that his jailers had tortured him and repeated claims he made in a letter last summer to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in which said that police forced him to write a suicide note and threatened to kill him if he continued to fight the charges.

Sharipov is being kept in a cramped cell at the Tavaksay prison, 70 kilometers northeast of Tashkent.

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