In October 2020, Muso Dzhalolov, who lived in St Petersburg, was sentenced to 10 years in a strict regime penal colony for involvement in a terrorist organisation
Memorial Human Rights Centre considers Muso Dzhalolov a political prisoner, in accordance with its definition of the term. We believe Dzhalolov’s criminal prosecution is politically motivated and was conducted by the authorities in order to strengthen their own power. Muso Dzhalolov was imprisoned without having committed an offence, in violation of the rights to fair trial, freedom of conscience and religion, as well as freedom of association. We believe Muso Dzhalolov’s conviction should be quashed and he should be released.
Who is Muso Dzhalolov and what is he accused of?
In 2004 Muso Dzhalolov was convicted in Tajikistan for involvement in the Islamic party Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami. After his release in 2008, he moved to St Petersburg in Russia.
In December 2019 Dzhalolov was detained in St. Petersburg on suspicion of involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir, designated a terrorist organisation in Russia. He was charged under Article 205.5, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code (participation in the activities of a terrorist organisation).
According to the investigators, during his time in St. Petersburg, from 2 November 2013 until 21 December 2019, Dzhalolov was engaged in propaganda for Hizb ut-Tahrir. On the pretext of studying Islam, in conversations with local Muslims he talked about the ideology of Hizb ut-Tahrir in order ‘to persuade them to take part in the organisation’ and ‘to increase the number of members.’
On 14 October 2020 the Second Western District Military Court sentenced Muso Dzhalolov to 10 years in a strict regime penal colony. In January 2021 the Military Court of Appeal upheld the verdict in the case.
Why does Memorial consider Dzhalolov a political prisoner?
Memorial has studied the conviction of Muso Dzhalolov and concluded that his prosecution and punishment have no basis in law and are politically motivated.
As in other prosecutions known to us, concerning involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, Dzhalolov was not charged with the preparation or execution of any terrorist act, the voicing of terrorist threats or calls for violence. Participation in the activities of the terrorist organisation, from the point of view of the court and the investigation, amounted to nothing more than the organisation of meetings, at which believers read and discussed Hizb ut-Tahrir party literature, and inviting new individuals to attend these meetings.
The court convicted Dzhalolov of a terrorist offence on the basis of involvement of this sort in the banned organisation.
However, the Supreme Court decision of 14 February 2003, banning the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic party in Russia, contains no evidence of terrorist activities. The decision devotes only three sentences to Hizb ut-Tahrir itself: the first declares the organisation aims to establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate, the second notes its conduct of large-scale Islamist propaganda and the third mentions the ban on the organisation’s activities in Uzbekistan and some Arab countries.
Such formulations in themselves cannot serve as a basis for recognising an organisation as terrorist. Consequently, we believe that the decision of the Supreme Court to designate Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation is illegitimate, just as it is illegitimate to bring charges of terrorism solely on the basis of membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Despite this, according to a list maintained by Memorial, at present at least 322 people have been convicted or are currently being prosecuted for involvement in Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Memorial calls for the immediate cessation of criminal proceedings against Muso Dzhalolov and his release from custody.
A more detailed description of the case and the position of Memorial Human Rights Centre can be found on our website.
Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner does not imply Memorial Human Rights Centre agrees with, or approves of, their views, statements, or actions.