A court in Dushanbe has sentenced Nizomiddin Nasriddinov, a former activist of the Group 24 opposition movement, to 8 1/2 years in prison on a charge of making public calls to forcibly change Tajikistan’s constitutional order.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a person involved in the trial told RFE/RL on October 5 that the Ismoili Somoni district court pronounced the verdict and sentence of Nasriddinov on September 29, adding that the former activist pleaded not guilty.
Court officials and Nasriddinov’s relatives refused to comment, while the court asked RFE/RL to send an official letter asking for comment.
Last month, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Human Rights Watch, Freedom for Eurasia, and Freedom Now demanded that Tajik authorities drop the “trumped-up” charges against Nasriddinov and immediately release the former activist.
Belarusian authorities detained Nasriddinov at Dushanbe’s request in January when he entered Belarus from Lithuania. They then extradited him to Tajikistan in July. Nasriddinov has refugee status in Germany.
Group 24, of which Nasriddinov was once a member, was labeled as terrorist and extremist and banned in the tightly controlled former Soviet republic in 2014. In March 2015, the movement’s founder, businessman Umarali Quvatov, was assassinated in Istanbul.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, who has run the Central Asian nation with an iron fist for almost 30 years, has been criticized by international human rights groups over his administration’s alleged disregard for independent media, religious freedoms, civil society, and political pluralism.
Last year, Tajik courts sentenced seven journalists and bloggers to prison terms ranging from seven years to 21 years on charges of spreading false information, involvement into activities of extremist groups, and cooperation with banned organizations. The journalists, their supporters, and human rights groups have called the charges trumped-up and politically motivated.