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The Russian authorities must immediately overturn their decision to deport asylum seeker Khudoberdi Nurmatov, better known under his journalist alias Ali Feruz, to Uzbekistan, Amnesty International said today.

“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,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

Ali Feruz fled to Russia in 2009 after he was arrested and tortured by the security forces in Uzbekistan. He has repeatedly tried to claim asylum in Russia and had recently appealed the Russian immigration authorities’ refusal to grant him refugee status. In a late night court hearing yesterday, the judge found him in violation of “the rules of entry or stay in the Russian Federation by a foreign citizen” and ordered his deportation.

“Inspite of overwhelming evidence of the risks of torture and other human rights violations that Ali Feruz would face in Uzbekistan, the judge still ruled that he should be deported. This utterly erroneous decision contravenes the absolute prohibition of torture and must be immediately overturned.”