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Ruslan Sharipov is pictured while he was in custody in Uzbekistan (file photo) (Courtesy Photo)
July 25, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- An exiled Uzbek journalist and human-rights laureate who feared repatriation says U.S. State Department officials have assured him that he faces no threat of imminent deportation to Uzbekistan.
Ruslan Sharipov had told RFE/RL in mid-July that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security considered him "ineligible and inadmissible" for permanent residency and threatened deportation, despite his asylum status.
Sharipov served jail time in Uzbekistan in 2003-04 on child-molestation charges that he and rights groups claimed were aimed at curbing his reporting of official wrongdoing.
He fled his homeland after what he describes as threats against his life by Uzbek authorities and was granted political asylum in the United States.
Before being jailed in 2003, Sharipov wrote of human-rights abuses and corruption in the upper echelons of the Uzbek government.
Sharipov was awarded a Golden Pen prize in 2004 by the Paris-based World Association of Newspapers, which seeks to promote press freedoms worldwide.