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U.S. 'Concerned' Over Tajik Opposition Leader's Jailing

Democratic Party of Tajikistan leader Makhmadruzi Iskandarov (file photo) 7 October 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The United States has expressed concern over the imprisonment of Tajik opposition leader Makhmadruzi Iskandarov.

Tajikistan's Supreme Court on 5 October sentenced, Iskandarov, the leader of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan, to 23 years in jail on terrorism and embezzlement charges.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Tajikistan, John Larson, today told RFE/RL that the embassy is concerned about Iskandarov's case.

"Although we cannot evaluate the merits of the charges against Iskandarov, we are concerned about the circumstances surrounding his arrest, trial, and verdict," Larson said. "Troubling aspects of the case include his extralegal return from Russia in April, his allegations that he was abused in detention, and the difficulties his family and lawyers experienced at times gaining access to him while he was in pretrial detention."

The U.S. Embassy's remarks came one day after the deputy head of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan, Rahmatullah Valliev, claimed Iskandarov's jailing was politically motivated and urged U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to raise the issue when she is in Tajikistan next week.

(with additional wire service reports)

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