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Amnesty Calls on Kyrgyzstan to Free Activist Serving Life Sentence

FILE - Human rights advocate Azimjan Askarov is seen in Prison #47 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Dec. 28, 2011. Askarov is serving a life sentence for what critics say were trumped up charges.

Rights organization Amnesty International is urging Kyrgyzstan’s government to release Azimjan Askarov, a human rights advocate serving life in prison.

Amnesty said in a statement Wednesday that Askarov is “a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.”

The rights group believes that the charges against Askarov were fabricated and politically motivated.

In April 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Committee urged Kyrgyzstan to immediately release Askarov, recognizing that he had been arbitrarily detained, tortured and denied his right to a fair trial.

Amnesty said that he was convicted and sentenced on fabricated charges in 2010 and his case will be reviewed by the Kyrgyz Supreme Court on July 11.

Amnesty is also urging authorities to ensure that adequate facilities are provided, including security measures, to guarantee the right to a public hearing with safe and free access to the Supreme Court for all wanting to attend the review, including lawyers and media.

Askarov, an ethnic Uzbek, was accused of being an accomplice to the murder of a police officer during several days of ethnic violence that took place in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. He was given a life sentence three months later.