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Ethnic Uzbek Imam Freed From Detention In Kyrgyzstan

Imam Rashod Kamalov (file photo)
Imam Rashod Kamalov (file photo)
KARA-SUU, Kyrgyzstan -- An ethnic Uzbek imam arrested last month on suspicion of swindling would-be hajj pilgrims has been released from detention in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, RFE/RL's Uzbek Service reports.

Rashod Kamalov, the imam of the mosque in Kara-Suu, southern Kyrgyzstan, was arrested at Bishkek's Manas international airport on January 18. He was ordered held in pretrial detention the following day.

Kamalov's arrest came after two Uzbek citizens filed complaints claiming they paid Kamalov some $6,300 to arrange visas for a trip to Saudi Arabia for the hajj -- a service they say he never provided.

Kamalov told RFE/RL after he returned to Kara-Suu today that the accusations against him were groundless and therefore he was released from custody.

There's been no statement from police about whether the charges against Kamalov have been dropped.

Kamalov is the son of Kara-Suu's former Imam Rafik Kamalov, who was killed by Kyrgyz security forces in 2006 during a special counterterrorist operation in the town. Local Uzbeks held numerous rallies then to protest the killing.

Read in Uzbek here