Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Tajik authorities to release opposition leader Zayd Saidov from prison "pending an independent review of the case."
A court convicted Saidov of charges ranging from bigamy and rape to fraud and bribery on December 25 and sentenced him to 26 years in prison.
Charges against Saidov first surfaced after he declared in April 2013 that he planned to form a political party that would focus on economic reforms.
Saidov said at that time that he did not intend to run for president in the election that was held in November.
In a statement issued on February 7
, Steve Swerdlow of the New York-based rights watchdog said, "Saidov's conviction starkly illustrates that the Tajik government will neither accept criticism nor the role of opposition parties in a democratic society."