Hundreds of people fled Uzbekistan to Russia and Kyrgyzstan last year after a government crackdown against protesters in Andijan, many of whom were taken to Europe and given refugee status. The UN has harshly criticized Uzbekistan over human rights issues, and recently condemned Kyrgyzstan's decision to extradite Uzbek refugees, who are also accused of terrorism.
"The Russian Prosecutor General's Office has instructed the Federal Penitentiary Service to suspend the extradition process of 13 foreign citizens to Uzbekistan, which was launched following a request from the republic's law enforcement agencies," a spokesman said.
Earlier, Russia's Prosecutor General's Office had granted a request from Uzbek prosecutors to extradite the 13 people, who Tashkent accuses of extremist and criminal activities, murder, terrorism, riots and possession of weapons. Uzbekistan gave assurances they would not be executed or tortured.
A spokesman for the Prosecutor General's Office said the European Court of Human Rights had considered appeals from the 13 people, and had told Russia to refrain from extraditing them until court proceedings were over. The spokesman declined to specify the citizenship and names of the individuals concerned.
International human rights organizations estimate that more than 700 protesters were killed in the Andijan uprising on May 13, 2005. The Uzbek government puts the figure at 170, and blames the violence on Islamic extremists.
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