A Tajik man has been sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison for watching, liking, and sharing videos of a banned Islamic Party’s gatherings abroad.
Alijon Sharipov, who Tajik authorities say has no party affiliation, was found guilty of “calling for extremism, calling for the overthrow of the government, and working for banned political parties.”
According to Khatlon regional court documents, obtained by RFE/RL, Sharipov, 32, watched, liked, and shared on social media videos of meetings and speeches from the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT).
One video included a speech by IRPT leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who, according to court documents, called for the overthrow of the Tajik government.
Sharipov, who was sentenced in late April, began serving his sentence on May 9, the court and his family said.
Sharipov admitted watching and sharing the videos when he was in Russia in 2017 while working as a laborer but said he didn’t know it was against law.
“Not knowing the law doesn’t relieve people from responsibility,” said Temur Boizoda, the judge who presided over the case.
“Sharipov admitted his wrongdoing but said he didn’t know the party is considered an extremist and terrorist party and that promoting its ideas is a criminal offense in Tajikistan,” the judge told RFE/RL on May 9. “Tajik TV and radio constantly talk about the threats posed by this party and other extremist groups. How wasn’t he aware of that?”
Khudoidod Ayubov, a close relative of Sharipov, said “he did it out of ignorance.”
“Alijon didn’t really know much about this party and its aims,” Ayubov told RFE/RL.
Tajikistan banned the IRPT in 2015 as a “terrorist organization” and imprisoned dozens of its officials and members.