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U.S. Citizen Detained On Visit To Relatives In Uzbekistan


Uzbek-American citizen Zokir Aliev (file photo)

A U.S. citizen who returned to visit relatives in Uzbekistan has been detained on suspicion of joining a terrorist group and fighting alongside Islamist insurgents in Afghanistan, authorities say.

Zokir Aliev was detained on June 16, about an hour after he arrived in his native city of Qarshi in the southern Qashqadaryo Region, the Paris-based Fiery Hearts Club Human Rights Association says.

The authorities gave no explanation to Aliev's relatives, but the State Security Service issued a statement on June 18 saying he was detained on terrorism-related charges.

The statement alleged that Aliev joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in 2000 and took part in attacks against Afghan armed forces and NATO-led coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The IMU has been designated as a terrorist group and banned in countries including Uzbekistan, the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, and Russia.

The Fiery Hearts Club said Aliev, who left Uzbekistan 25 years ago, works for a private tax-services company in the United States.

Aliev, 46, had not seen his relatives in many years and decided to make the trip following President Shavkat Mirziyoev's call to Uzbeks who left the country in the years after the 1991 Soviet collapse to return, the group said.

It said he entered Uzbekistan legally on a 90-day visa that he obtained at the Uzbek Embassy in the United States after receiving an official invitation from his relatives.

With reporting by VOA's Uzbek Service, podrobno.uz, and gazeta.uz
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