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Tajik Hizb Ut-Tahrir Leader Sentenced To 18 Years

DUSHANBE -- The leader of the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir movement in Tajikistan, Yusuf Khafizov, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Dushanbe City Court Judge Muhabbat Shamsiddinova told RFE/RL on January 21 that the sentence also deprived Khafizov of the right to take part in political activities for four years after his prison term ends.

Seven other active members of the pan-Islamic movement received prison terms ranging between six and 17 years. The defendants were all found guilty of inciting ethnic and religious hatred and attempting to overthrow the government.

The group was arrested last year.

Lawyers and relatives of the convicted men say they plan to appeal their cases.

One of the defendants' relatives, Ulmas Boiboboev, told RFE/RL that the group's plan was to build an Islamic state but only through political means and without using violence.

The Tajik government banned Hizb ut-Tahrir in 2001.

Read more in Tajik here and in Russian here