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Uzbekistan: Journalist Says Confession Made After Being Tortured

Tashkent, 1 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- A jailed Uzbek opposition journalist said today he had been tortured into confessing to charges of sodomy and called the case against him a crude fabrication designed to silence him and serve as a warning to other independent journalists. In his first media interview since he was arrested last May, Ruslan Sharipov said that Uzbek authorities used him in an effort to teach others a lesson.

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 independent journalist and human rights activist was sentenced in August at a closed trial after he suddenly dismissed his lawyer and changed his plea to guilty.

Journalists were allowed to visit Sharipov at the Tavaksay prison, 70 kilometers northeast of Tashkent.