DUSHANBE (TCA) — Human Rights Watch Central Asia researcher Steve Swerdlow says Turkey has detained two Tajik opposition politicians wanted in Tajikistan but will not extradite them at this point, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reports.
Swerdlow told RFE/RL on March 23 that Turkey’s Constitutional Court had ruled to suspend the men’s extradition amid concerns that they might face torture while in custody in Tajikistan.
A spokesman for the Group 24 opposition movement, Saidali Ashurov, who also lives abroad, told RFE/RL that Group 24 leader Suhrobi Zafar and another member, Nasim Sharipov, were arrested in their homes in Istanbul on March 19.
Ashurov said that members were informed by Turkish authorities that the possible extradition of Zafar and Sharipov has been suspended for three months.
The Tajik Embassy in Ankara and Tajik Interior Ministry officials told RFE/RL that they had no information about the two politicians.
Tajik authorities banned Group 24 in 2014 after labeling it an extremist group.
Group 24 was founded by fugitive tycoon Umarali Quvatov, who was shot dead in Turkey in March 2015.
Opponents of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon who live abroad say they believe Quvatov’s killing was orchestrated by Tajik authorities.
Several members of the group were jailed in Tajikistan after he was killed.
In recent years, Rahmon has been strengthening his grip on power, tolerating no dissent and banning opposition parties and movements.