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Uzbek UN Staffer Freed After 11 Years In Prison, Rights Group Says

Erkin Musaev served in the Defense Ministry and then the UNDP before being imprisoned on espionage charges in 2006.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that a former UN employee and government official has been released in Uzbekistan after being unjustly imprisoned for more than a decade.

Erkin Musaev, who was "tortured and unjustly jailed for 11 years in Uzbekistan," was freed on August 11, HRW said in an August 16 statement, citing his family.

The New York-based rights group quoted relatives as saying that Musaev, who had been imprisoned since 2006 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison for espionage in 2007, was granted early release on orders of President Shavkat Mirziyoev.

Mirziyoev "should release all those imprisoned on politically motivated charges and ensure effective investigations into the torture of detainees, including Musaev," HRW said.

"Erkin Musaev's release is a joyous occasion for him and his family, but Musaev's 11-year ordeal won't end until those who tortured him are brought to justice," said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at HRW.

Mirziyoev "should see to it that all torture of detainees finally ends and all victims get a remedy."

Musaev, 50, is a former Uzbek Defense Ministry official who worked in the ministry's foreign-trade department and participated in international cooperation programs with Western governments, including the United States and the European Union, for which authorities later accused him of espionage. He was involved in a UN counternarcotics project at the time of his arrest in 2006.

According to HRW, Musaev is the fifth political prisoner released since Mirziyoev became acting president after the death of longtime autocrat Islam Karimov was announced in September. Mirziyoev was elected president in December.

"The Uzbek government should also immediately and unconditionally release the other peaceful activists and human rights defenders who remain in prison following politically motivated and unfair trials," HRW said.

With reporting by
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