August 9, 2017 at 12:45 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
State Department welcomes decision to delay gay journalist’s deportation

Novaya Gazeta, Khudoberdi Nurmatov, gay news, Washington Blade

Khudoberdi Nurmatov, a gay reporter for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta who writes under the pen name Ali Feruz, says he would face torture in his native Uzbekistan if Russian authorities deport him. (Photo courtesy of Ali Feruz’s Facebook page)

The State Department on Wednesday said it welcomes a Moscow court’s decision to delay the deportation of a gay journalist who says he would be tortured in his native Uzbekistan.

Police on Aug. 1 detained Khudoberdi Nurmatov, a reporter for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta who writes under the pen name Ali Feruz, in Moscow.

Nurmatov, who was born in Russia but grew up in Uzbekistan, fled the former Soviet republic in 2008 after authorities kidnapped him and tortured him because of what Novaya Gazeta described as his “political views.” Nurmatov has been trying to receive asylum in Russia for more than two years.

Nurmatov last week reportedly tried to take his own life after a judge ordered his deportation. He has also alleged that he has been beaten, Tasered and insulted with anti-gay slurs at the detention center outside of Moscow in which he is being held.

The Moscow City Court on Tuesday ruled Russia cannot deport Nurmatov until the European Court of Human Rights rules on his appeal.

Russia, which is a member of the Council of Europe, is a signatory to the European Convention of Human Rights that created the European Court of Human Rights. President Vladimir Putin in 2015 signed a law that allows Russia’s Constitutional Court to decide whether his country should comply with rulings from the European Court of Human Rights and other international judicial bodies.

“We have been closely following the Ali Feruz case and welcome the court’s decision to delay his deportation,” the State Department told the Washington Blade. “We call on Russia to continue to uphold its international obligations, including to not return individuals to states where there are substantial grounds for believing they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”.

Novaya Gazeta in April began reporting on the arrest of gay men in Chechnya, which is a semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucuses. Neither Secretary of State Rex Tillerson nor President Trump have publicly commented on the crackdown since the reports emerged.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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