According to CrossMap, Uzbek authorities have released 33-year-old Tohar Haydarov, a Christian convert, after serving six years into his 10-year jail sentence.

Haydarov spent six years and ten months in prison and was released on parole on November 8. He has returned to his home town in Gulistan, eastern Uzbekistan.

The country is officially secular but human rights organizations say Uzbekistan severely restricts religious freedom and freedom of expression, especially members of religious organizations not affiliated to state-controlled Islamic or Russian Orthodox institutions.

Haydarov was found guilty of drug charges, which local Baptists insist were fabricated. His arrest in 2010 followed a request by some of his relatives to local police to help them force Haydarov to return to Islam, Release International disclosed.

The Council of Baptist Churches said Haydarov’s release did not signal a change in government policy towards Protestants. A spokesman from the Council said the “attitude to Christians in Uzbekistan is as before. Therefore it is possible that Tohar will encounter problems. We continue praying for Tohar.”

“We are very grateful Tohar has been granted parole: we have prayed for him for years and we need to continue our prayers. After six years in such difficult circumstances, he needs to be restored and re-establish his relationship with his loved ones. We know from other ex-prisoners that the process can be hard,” the spokesman added.

Crossmapcom. (2016). Crossmapcom.

Worldwatchmonitororg. (2016). World Watch Monitor.

Christiantodaycom. (2016). Christiantodaycom.

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