A court in Uzbekistan has sentenced a former employee of British mining company Oxus Gold to 12 years in prison on charges of industrial espionage.
The company said in a statement Thursday that a military court convicted Said Ashurov, who worked as chief metallurgist at a joint venture, which is at a center of dispute between the British company and Uzbekistan authorities.
The Amantaytau Goldfields joint venture is developing some of the world's most promising gold fields in the central Asian country.
Ashurov was arrested in March as he tried to cross the border into Tajikistan. Robert Amsterdam, the lawyer representing Oxus Gold, says the charges are fabricated.
The British company also expressed fear that Ashurov, who suffers from Hepatitis B, could die in an Uzbek prison without proper medical care.
Uzbekistan's foreign ministry was not available for comment.
Oxus Gold began operating in Uzbekistan in the mid-1990s, but after months of tensions with Uzbekistan's authorities, it was forced to end operations in March.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.