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MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian court has ordered a Novaya Gazeta reporter to be deported to his native Uzbekistan where he might face torture, the prominent Russian newspaper said Wednesday.
It said Khudoberdy Nurmatov, who was born in Russia but grew up in Uzbekistan, is now in jail pending an appeal.
It said Nurmatov fled Uzbekistan, one of the most closed post-Soviet nations and one that is notorious for its right abuses, in 2008 after he was tortured and coerced into collaborating with intelligence agencies. Nurmatov has been denied asylum in Russia several times and has recently appealed a refusal grant him refugee status.
Novaya Gazeta's editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, earlier this week wrote a petition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying Nurmatov, who writes under the pen-name of Ali Feruz, lost his Uzbek passport in 2012 and did not apply for a new one, fearing reprisals from Uzbek authorities.
Rights groups have voiced concerns over Nurmatov's detention, saying that deportation to Uzbekistan carries great risks for the journalist.
"Ali Feruz is openly gay, a human rights activist and a correspondent for the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper. This is a near-lethal combination for someone who is about to be handed over to Uzbekistan, where 'sodomy' is a crime and torture is endemic," Denis Krivosheyev, deputy for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, said in a statement.