The European Court of Human Rights has issued an extraordinary order barring the transfer of a journalist in Russia to the tightly controlled Central Asian county of Uzbekistan, the journalist's defense lawyer said in a statement on Facebook.
Attorney Kirill Koroteyev wrote on August 4 that the Strasbourg court approved a request freezing the deportation order against Ali Feruz, a Russian-born journalist for the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper, pending the resolution of his appeal to the court.
Koroteyev told the Interfax news agency that the court gave Feruz until the end of September to submit his completed complaint for consideration.
Interfax reported that the Russian Justice Ministry notified "the relevant Russian state bodies" of the court decision shortly after receiving notice from the court on August 4.
Tatyana Glushkova, a lawyer for Novaya Gazeta, told the website Ovdinfo.org that the case should take "several months or half a year."
"During that entire period, it is forbidden to send Ali to Uzbekistan," Glushkova said.
Glushkova also said that the Moscow City Court was scheduled to hear an appeal against the deportation order on August 7.
Feruz, whose real name is Hudoberdi Nurmatov, was ordered deported by a Moscow court on August 1 because of alleged violations of migration law. Feruz says he has the right to remain in Russia pending a decision on his application for asylum.
On August 4, Feruz was being held in a center for foreigners while awaiting decisions on the deportation order and other immigration-related issues.
He told activists from a group that monitors the treatment of Russians in custody that he was beaten and subjected to electric shocks while he was being transferred from the court to the holding center after the deportation order was issued.
Feruz left Russia at the age of 17 and accepted Uzbek citizenship, but he fled Uzbekistan in 2008 after allegedly being tortured for two days by the Uzbek security forces.
His supporters claim that he faces torture, imprisonment, and possibly death if sent to Uzbekistan.
Numerous Russian and international organizations have issued statements in support of Feruz, including the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Russian Union of Journalists, the Russian presidential advisory council on human rights, and others.
A petition in support of Feruz on the website Change.org has picked up more than 51,000 signatures.
There was no immediate comment from Russian or Uzbek officials or from the Strasbourg court on August 4.
The deportation of Feruz would expose Russia to fierce criticism and set up a test for Uzbekistan's conduct under President Shavkat Mirzyoyev, who has taken some steps to open the country up since he came to power after the death of autocratic longtime President Islam Karimov was announced in September.
In a statement on August 2, Human Rights Watch said that Mirziyoyev "has promised reforms, but such endemic problems as torture and politically motivated detention have yet to be addressed."
"Russia’s obligations as a party to the Convention against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights include ensuring that no one in Russian custody is forcibly sent to a place where they face a real risk of persecution, torture, or other serious human rights violations," the New York-based rights group said.