Uzbekistan releases political prisoner Juraev after 21 years

World’s longest-serving political prisoner freed in Uzbekistan following Kerry’s visit to country

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

John Kerry in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan released one of the world’s longest-serving political prisoners, just ten days after the US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the country.

Murod Juraev, 63 was released on Tuesday after 21 years imprisonment for “high treason,” “conspiracy with a purpose of seizure of power,” and “calls for violent overthrow of constitutional order or forcible violation of the unity of the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan.”

While Former parliamentarian and banned Erk party member was in prison he experienced violation of his rights several times.

According to his supporters and family members, Juraev was exposed to torture as he was in prison.

Human Rights Watch Central Asia researcher Steve Swerdlow said in a press release that “The last 21 years have been a living hell that Murod Juraev and his family should never have had to experience.”

His term in prison was also extended four times due to allegedly violation of prison rules.  

"Murod Juraev was released today from a prison in the town of Chirchik near Tashkent. He is in high spirits after spending 21 years in jail," manager of the Ezgulik (Kindness) rights group, Vasila Inoyatova said.  

Shortly after the dissemination of the news, US State Department welcomed his release adding that Uzbek government should take it as a turning point for upcoming efforts to release of other long-held journalists, activists and religious prisoners.   

Before Kerry’s visit to Tashkent on November 1, a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Ben Cardin had sent a letter to Kerry expressing his "concern about the erosion of the democratic process and respect for human rights across Central Asia."

In the letter, he also requested him to discuss in details of the issue of political prisoners in Uzbekistan, including Juraev.

Current approach of Uzbekistan in foreign policy is becoming less dependent from Russia, turning its face to West which has urged the country to improve its human rights record.

TRTWorld and agencies