Memorial demands their release.
All five, who are originally from Tajikistan (four are citizens of that country, one is a citizen of Russia), have been found guilty of an offence under Article 205.5 (Section 1) of the Russian Criminal Code (organisation of the activities of a terrorist organisation) and sentenced by Moscow District Military Court to terms of imprisonment in a strict-regime prison colony ranging from 15 to 18 years.
The charges are related solely to the affiliation of the defendants to the international religious organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, designated a terrorist organisation by decision of the Supreme Court of Russia in 2003. We have repeatedly expressed our disagreement with the position taken by the Supreme Court. There is no evidence that this group, which acts as a political party in the Middle East, has been involved in a single act of terrorism. In the countries of Western Europe and North America the party is not banned (with the exception of Germany, where the organisation is banned for anti-Israel rhetoric, but not for terrorism).
The defendants have been deprived of liberty, as have others in analogous cases, for having attended ‘illegal campaigning gatherings,’ calling on other Muslims to join the party, studying and possessing the literature of Hizb ut-Tahrir, and taking ‘conspiratorial measures’ (switching off mobile phones during meetings, etc.). There has been no reference in the charges to acts of terrorism, nor even to activities in any way dangerous to the public. We believe that, despite the fact that this organisation does not share the ideas of democracy and human rights in the Western sense, the danger presented to the public by its ideology, which is disseminated without violence or incitement to violence, is low, and cannot serve as justification for remanding defendants in custody, still less for two-digit prison terms.
It is evident that the Hizb ut-Tahrir prosecutions fall among the series of cases which the FSB has used to achieve “high results” (dozens of convictions) with minimal effort. The strengthening and arbitrary application of anti-terrorist legislation has led to a large number of prosecutions for which there is no justification. We demand that this imitation of a struggle against terrorism be ended and that Khodzhaev, Ironov, Khusenov, Numonchonov and Kurbonov be released.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.
For more information about this case, see here.
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