Russia overturns decision to deport gay journalist Ali Feruz to Uzbekistan

The Moscow City Court overturned a decision to forcibly deport gay journalist Ali Feruz from Russia back to Uzbekistan.

Earlier in the month, Amnesty International requested Russia to protect Feruz and not return him to Uzbekistan.

However, the court ruled Feruz must remain in detention. He is now waiting for the European Court of Human Rights to hear his case.

In a press release, Amnesty points out ‘immigration-related detention should always be used only as a last resort, for the shortest time possible and only when necessary and proportionate’.

A real risk of persecution and torture

Feruz, whose real name is Khudoberdi Nurmatov, is a correspondent for independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta in Moscow. He was initially detained on 1 August.

He was born and raised in Russia before moving to Uzbekistan at 17 and becoming an Uzbekistani national. In 2009, he fled after the Uzbekistani National Security Service tried to force him to become a secret informer. He faced detention and torture during this ordeal.

Russian immigration authorities denied his multiple requests for refugee and asylum status.

‘The suspension of Ali Feruz’s deportation to Uzbekistan – where he faces a real risk of persecution and torture, and homosexuality is a crime – is a positive step,’ said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director. ‘However, his continued detention despite his claims he has been beaten is disgraceful. He has committed absolutely no crime and it could take months or even years before a final decision by the European Court of Human Rights.’

Feruz claims he was beaten during his transfer to the detention center, showing the bruises at his hearing. ‘The judge decided to ignore these shocking allegations,’ said Krivosheev.

Sodomy is a crime in Uzbekistan. Amnesty is worried about Feruz’s ‘near-lethal combination’ of his sexuality, activism, and work for an independent publication should he be deported.

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