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Journalist Ali Feruz Arrives In Germany After Six Months In Custody In Russia

Ali Feruz in Moscow courtroom in August
Ali Feruz in Moscow courtroom in August

Journalist Ali Feruz, who for months faced the prospect of deportation from Russia to Uzbekistan, has arrived in Frankfurt, Germany, after court rulings in his favor.

Earlier on February 15, the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that Feruz went through passport control at a Moscow airport.

It did not reveal his destination, but the journalist's lawyer said earlier that he had tickets for Germany.

Feruz -- a pen name for Hudoberdi Nurmatov -- had been held in an immigration detention center since August 2017.

Feruz was born in Soviet Russia in 1986 but moved to Uzbekistan and took Uzbek citizenship at the age of 17. He fled Uzbekistan in 2008, saying he had been detained and tortured by the Uzbek security services.

Moscow's Basmanny district court in October upheld a decision by immigration authorities to deny Feruz political asylum, saying he had failed to prove he faced danger if returned to Uzbekistan.

In November, the court ruled that Feruz had been working illegally in Russia as a correspondent for Novaya Gazeta and ordered him deported.

His plight sparked an international outcry, with human rights groups among others urging Russia not to deport him.

The Basmanny court suspended the order after an August ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that Feruz should not be deported until it could examine the case.

Russian court decisions in February paved the way for him to leave Russia for a country other than Uzbekistan.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has conducted reforms since he came to power following the death of autocratic longtime leader Islam Karimov in 2016, but serious concerns about human rights persist.

An Amnesty International report published months before Karimov's death said that "torture is rife" in Uzbekistan.

In October, Human Rights Watch said that Uzbek authorities had taken "some positive steps" during Mirziyoev’s first year in office and called for "sustainable" improvements.

In November, Mirziyoev signed a decree prohibiting the courts from using evidence obtained through torture.

With reporting by Current Time TV