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Tajikistan Sentences Man For Spying For Uzbekistan

KULOB -- A Tajik citizen has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted of spying for Uzbekistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Boymurod Anarov was sentenced today for treason and illegally crossing the border, according to Muzaffar Miramirshoev, an official in the Khatlon Province Prosecutor's Office.

Tajik officials said Anarov -- who is an ethnic Uzbek -- left Tajikistan in 1992 and returned illegally in 2005.

Miramirshoev said Anarov told investigators that former Tajik citizen Bakhtiyor Alimardonov, who reportedly left Tajikistan in 1992 and purportedly works within the Uzbek intelligence service, asked Anarov to return to Tajikistan and gather information about energy projects in Tajikistan like the Nurek and Sangtuda-1 hydropower plants.

Tajik officials added that Anarov worked for a short time as a watchman during the construction of Sangtuda-1 after he returned to Tajikistan in 2005.

Miramirshoev said Anarov was arrested in July 2009 in a mosque in the Danghara district with some secret documents of the two hydropower plants and 1,000 Uzbek soms (around $0.66).

Relations between the two neighboring countries were strained after the Tajik government ignored Uzbekistan's objections and decided to complete the Roghun hydropower plant.

Uzbek officials are concerned that they will receive less water from Tajikistan as a result of the new hydropower plants.

Spying accusations are not unusual in Tajikistan.

In April, Tajikistan charged Muhammad Salimzoda, a retired officer and former Kyrgyz Defense Ministry official, of spying for Kyrgyzstan. He was convicted and was sentenced to life in prison.

In May, three top officials at the Vostokredmet uranium-reprocessing plant in Khatlon were arrested and charged with espionage. In July, the chief of Vostokredmet head Shavkat Bobojonov was arrested and accused of spying for Uzbekistan.