Popular Uzbek Journalist Released From Prison

By RFE/RL's Uzbek Service

The prominent Uzbek sports journalist Khairullo Khamidov, who was jailed in 2010 for alleged links to an extremist group, has been freed.

Khamidov told RFE/RL that a court in the town of Chirchiq in Tashkent Province, where he served his term, had granted him an early release on February 11.

In May 2010, Khamidov and 18 other men were found guilty of being members of the extremist Islamic group Jihadchilar (Jihadists).

Khamidov was sentenced to six years in jail and his co-defendants were given sentences ranging from suspended jail terms to six years in prison. 

Khamidov's arrest in January 2010 sparked an unusually strong wave of protests in Uzbekistan.

Khamidov became well-known across Uzbekistan for his extremely popular Islamic radio program, his work as a soccer commentator, and his poetry. 

In his program on a semiprivate station, Khamidov discussed a range of issues, including social issues such as homosexuality, prostitution, and drug dependency.