Prosecutor Seeks Extension Of Jailed Tajik Human Rights Lawyer's Sentence

A state prosecutor has asked Tajikistan's Supreme Court to extend the prison term handed down to human rights lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov.

Yorov's wife, Zarina Nabieva, told RFE/RL on March 15 that the prosecutor asked the judge on March 14 to add two years to Yorov's 23-year prison term.

Yorov was sentenced in October after the Dushanbe City Court found him guilty on charges of issuing public calls for the overthrow of the government and inciting social unrest.

Yorov pleaded not guilty and called the case against him politically motivated.

He then read out verses by the 11th-century Persian poet Omar Khayyam about fools, which led to fresh charges of contempt of court and insulting a government official.

Yorov was a lawyer for 13 members and leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, which the government labeled a terrorist organization and outlawed in 2015.

Dozens of party members were jailed in 2015-16.

Yorov is among at least five human rights attorneys who rights groups say have been targeted by authorities in Tajikistan in connection with their work.

The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch and other organizations have called for their immediate and unconditional release.