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Uzbek Official's Germany Visit Called A 'Disgrace'


Uzbek activist Akzam Turgunov complained of torture during an official interrogation.

Uzbek activist Akzam Turgunov complained of torture during an official interrogation.

Human rights activists have blasted Germany for hosting Uzbekistan's notorious secret police chief in Berlin the same day that an Uzbek court sentenced a prominent activist to 10 years in prison and only days after the European Union dropped a visa ban against senior Uzbek officials.

Rustam Inoyatov, head of the Uzbek National Security Service, arrived in Germany on October 23, the day an Uzbek court sentenced Akzam Turgunov in what is widely seen as a politically motivated case. Turgunov, a prominent activist who accused authorities of pouring boiling water down his back during his official interrogation, rendering him unconscious.

Germany's "Die Tageszeitung" daily called Inoyatov the "Minister of Torture" and said Germany had disgraced itself for hosting him 10 days after a EU visa ban was lifted against Inoyatov and seven other current and former Uzbek officials for their role in the 2005 massacre in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon. Hundreds of civilians are believed to have been killed there.

"Inoyatov's visit shows precisely why the visa ban should never have been lifted in the first place," says Rachel Denber, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "This man is implicated in the killings of hundreds of people. It's a disgrace that the German government allowed him to visit so quickly. And it's particularly appalling that Inoyatov arrived in Germany just as the Uzbeks were throwing another brave dissident in prison."

Media reports in Germany have linked Inoyatov's visit to ongoing German investigations of the Islamic Jihad Union, an alleged Uzbek terrorist organization accused of organizing attacks in Germany. However, the group has also been accused of being in cahoots with the Uzbek government by both Craig Murray, the British former envoy to Tashkent, and by Ikrom Yakubov, a former Uzbek intelligence officer who fled to Britain early last month.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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