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Imam At Moscow Mosque Accused Of Justifying Terrorism

The imam of a Moscow mosque has been charged with publicly justifying "terrorism and calling for terrorist acts," a defense lawyer said.

Makhmud Velitov, the imam of the Yardyam mosque "was arrested yesterday and [police] raided his home and the mosque," Dagir Khasanov said on July 12.

The defense lawyer said Velitov has admitted "partial guilt" in the case, without specifying further details.

The charges stem from a television interview and a mosque sermon by the imam.

The TASS news agency quoted an unnamed police source in the Russian capital as saying the imam was arrested on suspicion of spreading "banned extremist literature" in Russia.TASS reported that police found "religious literature" during the raids at the imam's home and mosque.

A spokesperson for the Russian Investigative Committee's Central Moscow department confirmed the charges, saying the "criminal case against Velitov is currently being investigated."

The investigators say Velitov -- in a sermon on September 23 -- sought to justify the activities of a member of the banned Hizb-ut-Tahrir extremist organization.The spokesperson did not provide further details.

If convicted, the imam would face up to five years in prison.

Based on reporting by Interfax and TASS