Court suspends deportation of Ali Feruz, Novaya Gazeta journalist

Court suspends deportation of Ali Feruz, Novaya Gazeta journalist
Ali Feruz

The court suspended the decision to expel the journalist of Novaya Gazeta, Ali Feruz, who was previously found guilty of violating the migration legislation. If he was sent to Uzbekistan, he would face jail, human rights activists said.⁠

The Moscow City Court ruled to suspend the expulsion of Novaya Gazeta journalist Ali Feruz (Khudoberdi Nurmatov) on the basis of a notification from the ECHR. Such a decision was made by judge Olga Pankova, a correspondent of RBC reports.

The decision of the Basmanny Court was changed on the basis of the interim measures of the ECHR, Nurmatov's lawyer Daniil Khaimovich told RBC. "The ECHR says in the ruling about the ban on Nurmatov's expulsion to Uzbekistan before the final decision of the ECHR, the Moscow City Court took this into account and supplemented the decision of the Basmanny Court", the lawyer explained.

Feruz was charged with being in Russia without proper documents. The court of first instance found him guilty under Article 18.8 of the Code of Administrative Offenses and decided to expel him to Uzbekistan. The deportation could be dangerous for Feruz, his lawyer Daniil Khaimovich recalled on the first day of the trial: during his life in Uzbekistan Feruz was kidnapped by security officials and tortured – this way the security services forced him to cooperate and spy upon people he knew. In addition, Feruz repeatedly stated about his homosexuality, which created a direct threat of criminal prosecution for him in Uzbekistan. On August 4, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) urgently prohibited the expulsion of Feruz.

The Moscow City Court began considering the appeal of the journalist on Monday; judge Pankova took a break so that the party could translate the decision of the ECHR from English into Russian, provide other outstanding documents, and Feruz's mother had time to come to Moscow from the Republic of Altai and give testimony in defense of her son.

Stolen passport

In 2012 Nurmatov's passport of a citizen of Uzbekistan was stolen, lawyer Khaimovich said the day before. "Unfortunately, it is impossible to issue it remotely through the consulate. Nurmatov would have to go for a passport to Uzbekistan, which was impossible for him for obvious reasons. If we put the threat to life and the compliance with certain formal rules on scales, then I think that everyone will agree that the threat to life is a more significant circumstance", the defender explained. The journalist was prevented from bringing the documents until 2014 by the clinical depression confirmed by psychiatrists: "I was not able to do this", Feruz explained; his lawyer added that he had no problems with the law anyway during that period.

The judge refused to consider the urgent decision of the ECHR to ban the expulsion of the journalist: "Judicial proceedings are conducted in Russian, the participants in the process are not obliged to know English", Pankova said. She also did not consider a letter from the government of one of the foreign countries, which is ready to host Feruz and grant him asylum. "This has nothing to do with the case. The readmission is made in the territory of the country, the citizenship of which the deported person has", Pankova retorted to the arguments of defender Khaimovich.

The court of first instance took as a basis for its decision the certificate of the inspector on migration issues of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, according to which Nurmatov lived in Russia since 2011 without permits. "This is not true. For a long time, Nurmatov tried to obtain refugee status and temporary asylum. He was refused, but during the procedure the legality of his stay was confirmed by documents issued by the Federal Migration Service, and then by the Ministry of Internal Affairs", lawyer Khaimovich said. He pointed out that at the time of his detention Feruz was legally in Russia: in May the Interior Ministry denied him a temporary shelter again, and by the beginning of August the time limit for appealing this decision had not expired yet.

The persecution of Feruz

Ali Feruz was arrested on August, 1. As the journalist himself said on a video from a police car published in social networks, he was stopped for a formal check of documents. He showed a press card, but he was still taken to the Basmanny police station for identification. They wrote a report on the journalist and took him to court. That same evening, judge Artur Karpov decided to fine the journalist for 5 thousand rubles ($83.3) and forcefully expel him from Russia. Feruz was taken into custody in the courtroom and taken to SUVSIG (special detention center for foreign citizens) in the suburban village of Sakharovo. At the hearing, the journalist of Novaya Gazeta, Elena Kostyuchenko, spoke as a witness, and she told the court that Feruz was tortured during his life in Uzbekistan.

After the trial, Feruz tried to open his own veins with a pen. During the escort, officers of the bailiff service beat the journalist and applied an electric shock to him, Evgeny Enikeev, a member of the Public Monitoring Commission (ONK), stated with reference to Ferua. The editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, Dmitry Muratov, who visited Feruz in the SUVSIG, noted that he had a large hematoma on his back, and that the prisoner complained of heartaches. The Federal Bailiff Service stated that there had been no beatings.

Colleagues Feruza launched a campaign in his support. Novaya Gazeta sent a letter to President Vladimir Putin; the journalist's mother Zoya Nurmatova also addressed the head of the state through the publication. The trade union of journalists called on its members to go to a small protest in defense of Feruz to the presidential administration on August 3; during the action, which does not require approval, several people were detained.

The Presidential Council for Human Rights (HRC) considered that the deportation of Feruz contradicted the Constitution: thus, the entire family of the journalist is Russians, and under the Constitution the family is protected by the state. The head of the Council, Mikhail Fedotov, believes that there is every reason to grant Feruz asylum or even Russian citizenship. At the same time, Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of the Russian president, said that the Kremlin considered the decision to expel Feruz justified and explained it with "violations that can not be overlooked".

The ECHR applied to Feruz the so-called rule 39 of the court's regulations, obliging Russia to immediately stop an irreparable violation of human rights and prohibiting the expulsion of Feruz from the country until his complaint to the ECHR is considered. This prescription is mandatory for Russia, Kirill Koroteev, the lawyer of the Memorial society, stressed to RBC.

Feruz had been detained earlier – in March of this year a protocol was drawn up on him for illegal residence and entry into Russia. Novaya Gazeta linked the detention with the fact that Uzbekistan's special services accuse the journalist of anti-government activities and extremism (in 2007 he was allegedly involved in the case on recruiting in an Islamist organization, Life wrote). Lawyer Irina Biryukova noted that Feruz qualified for asylum in Russia, and while the procedure is ongoing, he can be in the country without documents. In late spring, the authorities refused him asylum. The press center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs then informed that the department did not find any grounds for it.

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