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CPJ Demands Kyrgyzstan Release Rights Activist


Azimjan Askarov speaks to a reporter in his prison cell.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Kyrgyz authorities to immediately release a human rights activist of Uzbek background who is serving life in prison for his alleged role in organizing deadly ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan's south two years ago.

The group is also urging the authorities to investigate Azimjan Askarov's alleged beating while in custody.

Askarov, head of the rights group Vozdukh (Air), was found guilty in September 2010 of organizing clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, and of involvement in the murder of a police officer during the violence.

Askarov and his supporters reject any wrongdoing, saying he was documenting the violence.

Around 450 people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, were killed in violence in the southern Jalal-Abad and Osh regions in June 2010.

With reporting by Interfax
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