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Court In Tajikstan Convicts, Sentences Two Human Rights Lawyers

One of the men convicted, Buzurgmehr Yorov (pictured), is a lawyer who has represented members of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. (file photo)

Two human rights lawyers in Tajikistan have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms on charges of issuing public calls for the overthrow of the government and inciting social unrest.

The Dushanbe City Court on October 6 found Buzurgmehr Yorov and Nuriddin Mahkamov guilty of the charges -- sentencing Yorov to 23 years and Mahkamov to 21 years in prison.

Yorov and Mahkamov pleaded not guilty and called their trial politically motivated.

Yorov was a lawyer for 13 members and leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, a group that was banned in 2015 as a terrorist organization.

Dozens of party members have been arrested.

Yorov and Mahkamov are among at least five human rights attorneys who have been targeted by authorities in Tajikistan in connection with their work, prompting the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch and other rights groups to call for their immediate and unconditional release.