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US, rights group challenge Uzbek government on jailing of opposition leader

[JURIST] The Bush administration and an international human rights watchdog group have both challenged the Uzbekistan [JURIST news archives] government in the case of Sanjar Umarov [official profile], leader of the country's new opposition movement, the Sunshine Uzbekistan Coalition [party website]. Umarov, who has been critical of authoritarian President Islam Kamirov [BBC profile], was found naked and incoherent in his jail cell by his lawyer last week. A senior US State Department official said that the US is urging Uzbekistan to live up to its international commitments on human rights, including due process. Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] has called Umarov's arrest and detention the "latest incident in the Uzbek government's ruthless crackdown on dissent" and said that it was politically motivated [HRW press release]. Authorities, who arrested Umarov [JURIST report] during an October 22 raid of the group's headquarters, claim he was suspected of embezzlement. HRW also urged the Uzbek government to obtain immediate medical care for Umarov, as well as an independent psychiatric examination. For over a week, Umarov has been denied access to his lawyer and the government has turned down repeated pleas for Umarov's medical care. Washington Post has more.

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