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Uzbek Human Rights Activist Flees, Fearing Prosecution

September 24, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A well-known human rights activist from southern Uzbekistan has fled his country due to fear of possible arrest.

Seventy-year-old Yodgor Turlibekov told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service today that he had registered as an asylum seeker with the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR.

He added that he felt compelled to leave his homeland in the face of what he said was authorities' increased harassment in recent months.

Turlibekov said police and security service officers (SNB) had threatened him with prosecution, demanding that he stop his activities.

"They told me so both at the police and the [national security service] -- they openly told me that I would be arrested," he said. "They threatened me, saying that if I were imprisoned a second time, I would die in prison."

Turlibekov, who is from the region of Qashqadaryo, was jailed in July 2006 on what human rights groups said were fabricated charges. He continued his independent rights campaigning after his pardon and release in December.

Turlibekov, who did not want his current whereabouts made public, left behind family that included children and grandchildren.

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