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AKIPRESS.COM - Uzbekistan has freed an opposition and human rights activist after imprisoning him for more than four years, the RFE/RL reports.
Tillaev, 46, told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service in a telephone interview that he was granted early release and walked out of prison at around 7:30 a.m. on May 12.
"They told me that I'm free. They allowed me to review the court's decision, asked me to sign some documents, and escorted me outside," he said.
Tillaev and another opposition activist, Nuraddin Jumaniyozov, were sentenced to more than eight years in prison in March 2014 after being convicted of human trafficking. They were found guilty of facilitating illegal labor migration from Uzbekistan to neighboring Kazakhstan.
Human rights advocates condemned the trial and the verdict, saying the case was politically motivated due to the opposition activism of the two men.
Jumaniyazov died in prison in December 2016 at the age of 69.
The lawyer for the two men alleged that they were tortured while in pretrial detention but that investigators refused to look into the claims, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
HRW's Central Asia researcher, Steve Swerdlow, said on Twitter that "while thousands remain behind bars in Uzbekistan on politically motivated charges," there are now "no human rights activists jailed" in Uzbekistan following Tillaev's release.