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Kyrgyz Authorities Extradite Kazakh Activist Amid Protests


Kazakh activist Muratbek Tunghyshbaev appears at a Kyrgyz court hearing last month.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz authorities have extradited Kazakh opposition activist and blogger Muratbek Tunghyshbaev to Kazakhstan, despite pleas from human rights groups that say he could face false charges and torture.

Tunghyshbaev was handed over to Kazakh officials on June 27, Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security (UKMK) spokesman Rakhat Sulaimanov told RFE/RL.

Human rights activists have urged Kyrgyz authorities not to extradite Tunghyshbaev, saying he could face torture and ill-treatment if returned to neighboring Kazakhstan.

A court in Bishkek on June 25 upheld the prosecutor-general's decision to extradite Tunghyshbaev.

A day earlier, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Kyrgyz authorities to protect Tunghyshbaev from being extradited or forced back to Kazakhstan, where the New York-based watchdog said he would "face politically motivated charges, as well as risk of torture."

Tunghyshbaev was arrested in Bishkek in May at the request of authorities in Kazakhstan who claim that the activist financially supported and took part in the activities of an extremist group.

Tunghyshbaev denies the accusations, saying that Kazakh authorities are targeting him over videos he posted online about problems faced by activists and supporters of the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement.

The DVK was established by Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive critic of President Nursultan Nazarbaev. A court in Kazakhstan banned the movement in March, branding it an extremist organization.

The Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General's Office said on May 24 that Tunghyshbaev must be extradited to Kazakhstan, while Kyrgyzstan's migration service said on June 5 that he had officially asked for political asylum in Kyrgyzstan.

Tunghyshbaev co-founded the human rights group Liberty in 2011. The group has worked on freedom of assembly, antidiscrimination, and other human rights issues.

He fled Kazakhstan in 2012 after security services summoned him for reporting on an oil-worker strike and an outbreak of violence in the town of Zhanaozen in 2011.

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