The international rights group Human Rights Watch is calling on the Uzbek government to investigate the alleged kidnapping and beating of an activist in Tashkent.

In a statement, the London-based group says Surat Ikramov was abducted and assaulted early Thursday after a man flagged him down in his car and asked for a ride. It says four masked men tied him up and drove him to the outskirts of Tashkent, where they demanded money, beat him, and left him unconscious.

Mr. Ikramov has been working as a public defender for Ruslan Sharipov, a journalist and media freedom activist recently sentenced to five and a half years in prison on charges of homosexual activity and sex with minors.