Uzbek Court Fines Uzbek-Born U.S. Citizen Over Militant Links

A provincial court in Uzbekistan has convicted an Uzbek-born U.S. citizen of links to a militant group and calling for the overthrow of the government but imposed only a $67 fine for the offenses committed almost two decades ago.

Zokir Aliev, 46, was detained on June 16 on suspicion of joining a terrorist group and fighting alongside Islamist insurgents in Afghanistan.

He was released six days later, pending a trial in his native city of Qarshi in the southern Qashqadaryo Province.

On June 18, the State Security Service stated that Aliev was detained on terrorism-related charges, alleging that he joined the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in 2000 and took part in attacks against Afghan forces and NATO-led coalition troops in Afghanistan.

The Uzbek Supreme Court's press office said on July 4 that the court had convicted Aliev of publicly calling for the toppling of the government and participating in an extremist group.

It said the court imposed the small fine based on a multiple of the official minimum wage as of December 1999 when the offense occurred.

The Uzbek Criminal Code says the punishment for such offenses can be as mild as a fine, or a fine plus prison time.

Aliev denies any involvement with the IMU.

Aliev told RFE/RL on June 23 that he had decided to make the trip to Uzbekistan after President Shavkat Mirziyoev called for the return of Uzbeks who left the country in the years after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Aliev, a U.S. citizen since 2014, said he entered Uzbekistan legally on a 90-day visa.

The IMU has been designated as a terrorist group and banned in countries including Uzbekistan, the United States, and Russia.

With reporting by Reuters