Memorial considers Albert Shafiev, Aidar Aidarbekov, Nail Miniakhmetov, Maksim Puigin and Radik Imangulov to be political prisoners and demands their immediate release.
Five residents of Bashkiria have been found guilty of an offence under Article 205.5 of the Russian Criminal Code (organising and taking part in a terrorist organisation) and sentenced by the Volga District Military Court to terms in a strict-regime prison colony ranging from 11 to 16 years.
The charges relate exclusively to the defendants’ participation in the international religious organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, designated as a terrorist organisation by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in 2003. We have repeatedly expressed our disagreement with the position taken by the Supreme Court on this issue. There is no evidence that this group, which functions as a political party in the Middle East, has been complicit in a even a single act of terrorism. In Western Europe and North America the party is not banned (with the exception of Germany, where the organisation is banned for its anti-Israel rhetoric, but not for terrorism).
The defendants in the case were deprived of liberty, as in analogous cases, for having visited «illegal campaigning» assemblies, calling on other Muslims to join the party, studying and possessing Hizb ut-Tahrir literature, and taking «conspiratorial measures." There was no mention, not only of acts of terrorism, but even of any activity that could be considered dangerous to society. Even though this organisation does not share Western ideas of democracy and human rights, the public danger represented by its ideology, disseminated without violence or incitement to violence, is low and cannot serve as justification for the application of pre-trial detention, let alone two-figure prison terms.
It is obvious that the Hizb ut-Tahrir cases belong to those «series» of prosecutions through which the FSB achieve «high results» (dozens of convictions) with a minimum of effort. The toughening and arbitrary application of anti-terrorist legislation has laid the ground for wholly unjustified mass prosecutions. We demand an end to this pretence of a struggle against terrorism and that Shafiev, Aidarbekov, Miniakhmetov, Puigin and Imangulov 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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