Jailed Tajik Rights Defender Izzat Amon Faces Additional Charge

DUSHANBE -- A noted Tajik rights defender who was sentenced to nine years in prison in October on fraud charges that he has rejected faces an additional fraud charge.

Izzat Amon's relatives told RFE/RL on March 7 that the activist may face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.

A source in the Interior Ministry confirmed to RFE/RL that a resident of the southern city of Bokhtar had filed a lawsuit against Amon, accusing the rights defender of stealing $10,000 through an unspecified fraudulent action.

Amon's relatives say the case is fabricated.

Amon led the Center for Tajiks in Moscow for many years before he was deprived of Russian citizenship and forced to return to Dushanbe in March last year at the request of Tajik authorities, who accused the activist of financial fraud.

Amon's supporters and relatives dismissed the charges as politically motivated before he was convicted and sentenced in October.

Activists and rights groups say President Emomali Rahmon, who has ruled Tajikistan since 1992, has used various levers of power to suppress rights groups and dissent.

Amon’s nonprofit organization in Moscow has helped Tajik migrant workers find jobs, obtain work and residency permits, and get legal advice.