SHYMKENT, Kazakhstan -- A group of Kazakh climbers released from Uzbek custody over the weekend say they will sue the Uzbek authorities for violating their rights in detaining them, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
The mountain climbers -- four adults and eight children -- were detained by Uzbek border guards last month while exploring the Tian Shan mountains in southern Kazakhstan.
The children arrived home on July 30, while the four adults returned to Shymkent the next day. The group was led by professional mountain climbers Erbol Orazalin and Mars Sadyqov, and boxing trainer Khardyn Faizullin.
Sadyqov told RFE/RL on August 1 that he and his colleagues plan to sue Uzbek officials for violating their rights. He said the Uzbek police did not allow members of the group to contact their relatives or the Kazakh Embassy in Tashkent for two weeks.
"The Uzbek authorities demanded 1 million Uzbek soms ($579,500) for the children's release and insisted that the adults would be released only if a court decided [they should be]," Sadyqov said. He added that the authorities later withdrew their demand for money.
Sadyqov told RFE/RL that group members were separated from each other while in custody, even the children.
He said they started their journey to the mountains on July 10.
"Because of the very bad weather, we lost our way and found ourselves on Uzbek territory, where we were detained," Sadyqov told RFE/RL.
The youngest member of the group, Artur Sadyqov, is nine. His mother, Oksana Solomatina, told RFE/RL that the Uzbek authorities allowed her to see him only for 20 minutes when she arrived in Tashkent last week.
The Kazakh Foreign Ministry officially asked Tashkent for an explanation of the climbers' detention after learning about it on July 27. When the group failed to return home on July 20 as planned, relatives approached local police for help in locating them.
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