Central & South Asia
Uzbek rights worker freed
Niyazova freed after she issues "confession" and criticises Human Rights Watch.
Last Modified: 09 May 2007 08:42 GMT
Niyazova, right, was relieved to be freed [AFP]
An Uzbek court has freed a human rights worker and suspended her seven-year jail sentence after she confessed to the charges against her and criticised international rights groups.
Umida Niyazova, who had worked as a translator for New York-based Human Rights Watch, was convicted last week of possessing subversive materials.
On Tuesday she told a court in Tashkent: "I confess that I committed a crime and acted unconsciously while under the influence of the atmosphere which I was in.
"I am disillusioned about what international organisations are doing."
Diplomats from the US, British and German embassies looked on as Niyazova made a 10-minute statement from a cage inside the courtroom.
The statement was critical of Human Rights Watch. The group's researcher in Uzbekistan, Andrea Berg, was accused of bias and harming the country.
Hundreds were killed during protests in
Andizhan in 2005 [EPA]
Human Rights Watch said it welcomed Niyazova's release, but it did not comment on the criticisms of its work.
In the statement, Niyazova also criticised "colour revolutions" - a term applied to popular uprisings in three former Soviet states; in two of them, Georgia and Ukraine, the uprisings brought Western-oriented governments to power.
"I would not want a colour revolution to take place in Uzbekistan like it happened in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan," she said.
Andizhan killings
After a two-day trial last week, Niyazova, who also wrote news stories critical of the Uzbek government, was sentenced to seven years in jail.
She was found guilty of smuggling subversive literature, illegally crossing the border, and illegally financing local rights groups with funds from unnamed foreign embassies.
Uzbek authorities found articles and information in her laptop computer about the killing of protesters in the Uzbek town of Andizhan in May 2005.
The EU and US had criticised Uzbekistan over the case.
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
UNHCR says hundreds of people trapped in Yaloke town risk death if they are not evacuated to safety urgently.
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Long-standing dispute over Christian use of the word 'Allah' raises concerns about a very un-Merry Christmas.
The threat posed by ISIL has prompted thousands of young Kurds to join the PKK.
Baja California - with its own grim history of disappeared people - finds a voice in the fight against violence.
Russian feminist rockers fight system holding 700,000 - the world's largest per capita prison population after the US.
Weeks of growing protests against Muslims continue in Dresden with 15,000 hitting the streets last Monday.