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Uzbek Court Frees Mother Of Muslim Dissident

Tashkent, 24 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- An Uzbek appeals court today freed the jailed mother of a Muslim dissident, following criticism from human-rights groups and shortly before the arrival of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Earlier this month, Fatima Mukadyrova was sentenced to six years in prison for possession of banned Muslim pamphlets. Human rights activists said the government was trying to silence her after she had accused prison officials of torturing her son to death.

Mukadyrova's lawyer, Alisher Ergashev, said the court decided to free her with a fine of $280 on account that she is an older woman (she is 62).

Ahead of Rumsfeld's visit later today, the Human Rights Watch group called on Rumsfeld to put more pressure on Uzbekistan's government over the country's human-rights record.

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