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Prominent Uzbek Sports Journalist Jailed For Religious Extremism

Khairullo Khamidov
Khairullo Khamidov
TASHKENT -- The prominent Uzbek sports journalist Khairulla Khamidov has been sentenced to six years in jail on charges of associating with a banned Islamic group, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

The court in the town of Gulbakhor near Tashkent found Khamidov and 18 others guilty of being members of the extremist Islamic group Jihadchilar (Jihadists).

Khamidov's co-defendants were given sentences ranging from suspended jail terms to six years in prison.

Khamidov, 34, was found guilty of "organizing and actively participating in a banned social or religious group" and "production and distribution of literature threatening social order and security."

Khamidov is well known in Uzbekistan for his popular Islamic radio program, his work as a soccer commentator, and his poetry. His arrest in January sparked an unusually strong wave of protest in Uzbekistan.