Makhmud Velitov. Photo: http://ren.tv/novosti/2016-07-12/video-iz-suda-gde-za-ekstremizm-arestovali-imama-moskovskoy-mecheti

15 September 2017, 15:01

HRC "Memorial" recognizes Imam Makhmud Velitov as political prisoner

The criminal proceedings against Makhmud Velitov, Imam of the Moscow "Yardyam" Mosque, sentenced in the case on public justification of terrorism, imitate the fight against terrorism, the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial" reports today. The rights defenders have demanded to release Makhmud Velitov.

The "Caucasian Knot" has reported that on April 28, the Moscow District Military Court sentenced Makhmud Velitov to three years of imprisonment in a penal colony. Public prosecutors saw justification of terrorism in the Imam's interview and preaching about Abdulla Gappaev, a killed Dagestani religious figure who, according to investigators, was a member of the organization "Hizb ut-Tahrir" (recognized in Russia as a terrorist and banned by a court's decision).

According to Makhmud Velitov, he was not aware of the fact that the law enforcement agencies treated Abdulla Gappaev as a terrorist. The defence appealed against the verdict to the Imam.

The rights defenders note that Makhmud Velitov never mentioned the organization "Hizb ut-Tahrir"* in his speech and that he spoke of the caliphate in the context of Islamic prophecies.

"It is absolutely inconceivable to accuse a person of 'justifying terrorism' for several kind words and a funeral prayer for the murdered man, who, by the way, had not been found by court guilty of any crimes," reports the message of the HRC "Memorial" received today by the "Caucasian Knot".

The rights defenders point out that Makhmud Velitov is Category II Invalid. Earlier, he had suffered a heart attack and a stroke. "Given the state of penitentiary medicine in Russia, the imprisonment is dangerous for his life. We demand to immediately release Makhmud Velitov and stop imitating the fight against terrorism," the HRC "Memorial" emphasizes in its statement.

*The organization in recognized in Russia as a terrorist and banned by a court's decision

Full text of the article is available on the Russian page of 24/7 Internet agency ‘Caucasian Knot’.

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