Leeds University alumnus Alexander Sodiqov is being detained in Tajikstan for allegedly partaking in espionage and treason.
Sodiqov was undertaking the research into conflict prevention in the region as part of a contract with the University of Exeter until he was detained on June 16th.
Pressure from the academic community led to Sodiqov’s release on bail on 22nd July after almost 40 days in a maximum security prison, but he has been banned from leaving the country until further notice.
In 2007-2008, Alexander Sodiqov studied at Leeds University’s POLIS, earning a Master’s degree in Conflict, Development and Security. He is currently a political science PhD student at the University of Toronto, but is a national of Tajikistan, a small post-Soviet nation in central Asia.
Some feel that Sodiqov is only under arrest for asking difficult questions, and query the fairness to detain a student for interviewing people as part of academic research for a respected institution.
Political and Campaining representative Rosie Collington said:
‘This is an incomprehensible situation and the distress that Alex and his family are suffering should not be underestimated.
As students, academics and university staff we should all care about the fact that a man has been arrested as a result of his scholarly research. I hope the University takes a stance in support of Alex’s campaign for freedom and against the Tajik government’s attempts to intimidate information about the 2012 conflict out of academia.’
A change.org petition with over 40,000 signatories is calling for Alexander Sodiqov’s unconditional release.