Moscow Court Orders Novaya Gazeta Reporter's Deportation To Uzbekistan

A court in Moscow has ruled that a correspondent for Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper, Ali Feruz, must be deported to Uzbekistan.

The ruling came on August 1, hours after Feruz was detained by police near the newspaper's headquarters in Moscow.

Feruz, legally known as Hudoberdi Nurmatov, was found guilty of violating emigration rules. He pleaded not guilty, saying he had graduated from a secondary school in Russia and his mother, sister, and brother are Russian citizens. Feruz was born in Russia.

Feruz's lawyers said on August 2 that their client tried to slash his wrists with a pen after the court's ruling was pronounced on August 1.

They said court bailiffs stopped the attempted suicide by handcuffing Feruz, who said it is better to die than to face Uzbek authorities again.

Feruz said he has been waiting to receive refugee status in Russia since 2014, adding that he might face incarceration and torture if he is deported to Uzbekistan.

According to Feruz, he had to flee Uzbekistan in 2008 after he refused to cooperate with Uzbek security services and was tortured in Uzbek custody for two days.

Novaya Gazeta's chief editor, Dmitry Muratov, said in a statement that Feruz's deportation would be illegal as Russia is his birth country.

The Union of Journalists of Russia agreed, saying on August 2 that the court did not take into consideration that Feruz was born and raised in Russia.

Amnesty International on August 2 urged Russian authorities to overturn the decision to deport Feruz.

“Ali Feruz is openly gay, a human rights activist, and a correspondent for the independent Novaya Gazeta newspaper. This is a near-lethal combination for someone who is about to be handed over to Uzbekistan, where 'sodomy' is a crime and torture is endemic,” said Denis Krivosheev, deputy director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

With reporting by Novaya Gazeta and Mediazona