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Ukraine Says Deported Uzbeks Members of Al-Qaida-Linked Group

Ukraine is defending its controversial deportation of 10 Uzbek asylum seekers, saying the men were members of an al-Qaida-linked terror group.

The Ukraine Security Agency says they were members of the militant Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which is blamed for bombings in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent.

The agency says the men also violated Ukrainian law by spreading radical propaganda among Ukrainians.

Ukraine deported the Uzbek men on February 14.

Tuesday, the U.S. State Department condemned the forced return, saying the Uzbeks were apparently deported without undergoing the full asylum process under Ukrainian law.

The U.S. says Ukraine ignored United Nations appeals to allow the men to stay until all asylum procedures were followed.

Human rights groups say the men risk torture in Uzbekistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.