Ruslan Sharipov

Profession: journalist and human rights activist, member of the Union of Independent Journalists of Uzbekistan (UIJU)

D.o.b: c. 1978

Date of arrest: 26 May 2003

Sentence: 4 years

Expires: 25 May 2007

Details of arrest: arrested in Tashkent on 26 May 2003 with two other colleagues on suspicion of having committed homosexual acts and sex with minors. Details of charge: Article 120 of the Uzbek Criminal Code – homosexuality. Article 128 – sexual relations with minors.

Details of trial: On 8 August 2003 Sharipov reversed his previous denials and instead confessed to all charges, and also renouncing all his critical articles between the period of 2001 to May 2003. He reportedly told his defence team that he had been forced to make the confession fearing for his safety and that of his mother. The legal team suspects torture, but saw no visible evidence.

Conviction: On 13 August 2003 Sharipov was found guilty under Articles 120, 127 and 128 of Uzbek law and was given five and a half year sentence. This was reduced to four years on appeal on 25 September 2003 after charges of “anti social behaviour” involving minors (Article 127) were dropped. On 5 September Sharipov sent a letter from prison reversing his confession, saying he had done so under severe threat and ill-treatment.

Latest developments: Sharipov was released on probation in June 2004, but fled Uzbekistan before his transfer to Bukhara where he was to serve a two year sentence of community service. In October 2004, after four months of exile in Moscow, Shapirov was granted political asylum in the United States and has now resettled in California.

Background: Sharipov, who is open about his sexual orientation, has been a critic of the Uzbek government for many years and has written articles on alleged corruption in the police force. He has worked with a number of international human rights organisations.

Honorary member: American PEN, English PEN, USA West PEN Centre, Writers in Exile

Released: He was freed into house arrest in March 2004 and able to leave for Moscow in June and subsequently granted a visa to the USA on 29 October 2004. He is now a resident of California.

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