State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said today that U.S. officials have sought more information on the reports on the treatment of Sanjar Umarov, head of the Sunshine opposition group in Uzbekistan.
McCormack said U.S. officials are pressing the Uzbek Foreign Ministry for details.
"We're going to continue to press it, and certainly the fact of other violent repressive behaviors on the part of the Uzbek government in the form of the Andijon incident gives us greater pause when we hear this kind of report, which we do take seriously," McCormack said.
Relations between Washington and Tashkent have appeared strained since the United States and European governments criticized Uzbek officials' handling of violence in Andijon in mid-May, as well as their subsequent refusal to allow an independent probe into those events, which nongovernmental groups claim killed hundreds more people than the government has acknowledged.
Umarov's aides say he is being drugged into unconsciousness. He was arrested in October on charges of economic crimes.
Nodira Khidoyatova, one of the leaders of Sunshine, today called on Russia to publicly acknowledge human rights abuses in Uzbekistan and drop support for its authoritarian government.