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Rights Group Calls Uzbek Reporter Jailing 'Travesty'

Dilmurod Sayyid
U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has accused Uzbekistan of bringing "politically motivated charges" against a journalist critical of the government and said his trial was "a travesty of justice."

Western nations have long accused Uzbekistan, Central Asia's most populous state, of human rights violations.

But Washington and Tashkent have recently taken steps to improve relations, at a time when the United States wanted to send supplies through Uzbekistan to its troops in Afghanistan.

Uzbek reporter Dilmurod Sayyid (Saidov) was found guilty of extortion and forgery on July 30 and sentenced to 12 1/2 years in jail, the rights group said in a statement late on August 3. Several witnesses withdrew testimony during the trial, it said.

"Saidov is well known for his courageous work to expose rampant corruption in Uzbekistan, and this conviction is clearly an attempt to stop him," said the group's Europe and Central Asia director Holly Carter.

"The trial was a travesty of justice, and Saidov should be freed immediately."

Uzbek officials could not be reached for comment.

Rights groups say there are thousands of political prisoners in Uzbekistan.

Human Rights Watch said last month that dissident poet Yusuf Jumaev (Jumayev) had been tortured in jail, and demanded his release and an investigation.

Tashkent denies any human rights abuses.

-- Reuters