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World’s Longest-Imprisoned Journalist Is Freed in Uzbekistan
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World’s Longest-Imprisoned Journalist Is Freed in Uzbekistan

Agence France-Presse quoted an Ezgulik official, Abdurakhmon Tashanov, as saying in an emailed message that Mr. Ruzimuradov “feels well.”

The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan has long been known as one of the most cloistered and authoritarian states to have emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union, although the severity of repression has eased slightly in the past few years.

Mr. Ruzimuradov was incarcerated during the rule of President Islam Karimov, a ruthless autocrat who tolerated no dissent and silenced the news media during his nearly three decades in power. Mr. Karimov died in 2016 at age 78.

Under his successor, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who had been Mr. Karimov’s prime minister, at least 20 political prisoners, including journalists and human rights activists, have been released. They included an editor and co-defendant of Mr. Ruzimuradov’s, Muhammad Bekjanov, who was freed last year.

Both men had been in exile in Ukraine when they were seized and taken back to Uzbekistan in 1999 in what human rights groups called a state-sponsored abduction by Uzbekistan’s feared secret police.

They were convicted of publishing an outlawed newspaper, Erk, or Freedom, which was regarded as part of a plot to overthrow the government.

While human rights groups welcomed the news of Mr. Ruzimuradov’s release, they said many antigovernment critics remained incarcerated, including some scheduled for trial next week.

Mr. Swerdlow said thousands of Uzbeks also remained jailed for practicing Islam outside the confines demanded by the government.

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