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Uzbek Opposition Activist, Rights Defender Turgunov Released After Nine Years In Prison


Uzbek Opposition activist Agzam Turgunov upon his release from prison on October 7. (file photo)

A prominent Uzbek opposition activist and human rights advocate, Agzam Turgunov, has been released several months early after nine years in prison.

Turgonov, who was released on October 7, is one of several people whom activists consider political prisoners to have been freed since President Shavkat Mirziyoev took office after longtime autocrat Islam Karimov's death in 2016.

Now 66, the opposition Erk (Freedom) party member and chairman of unregistered human rights group Mazlum (Oppressed) was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2008 on extortion charges supporters contended were unfounded and politically motivated.

Tashkent-based right activist Abdurahmon Tashanov posted a video taken minutes after Turgunov's release.

Independent journalist Solijon Abdurahmonov was released on October 4 after more than nine years in prison, and human rights activist Agzam Farmonov was released on October 3 after more than 10 years in prison.

Human Rights Watch said in mid-August that five political prisoners had been freed since Mirziyoev, the longtime prime minister under Karimov, became acting president after Karimov's deaths was announced in September 2016. Mirziyoev was subsequently elected in a tightly-controlled vote in the Central Asian country of about 30 million in December.

Another U.S.-based human rights advocacy group, Freedom House, said in an August 28 report that Mirziyoev had taken some steps to open up the nation. It said the international community "should acknowledge positive changes in the country but continue nudging the government toward a full-scale reform to ensure a prosperous, secure, and pluralistic Uzbekistan."

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