A Chechen asylum seeker controversially deported from France to Russia has been sentenced to 1 ½ years in prison on alleged weapons charges.
Magomed Gadaev, an opponent of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, was deported from France to Russia in April despite concerns from rights groups that he could be tortured or killed.
The Paris-based Chechen diaspora organization Bart Marsho and Russia’s leading human rights group Memorial confirmed on June 9 that a court in Chechnya had sentenced Gadaev to 1 ½ years in prison.
France cited his links to “the Islamist movement and international jihad” in deporting the asylum seeker, but Amnesty International had said that Gadaev faced persecution for his role as a witness in proceedings against cases of torture committed by the Chechen authorities.
Amnesty said France violated its international commitments and ignored the decisions of administrative courts when they allowed Gadaev to be deported.
Gadaev is on the board of Bart Marsho and a member of the Assembly of Chechens in Europe, an organization representing the interests of the diaspora.
He lived in France for around a decade after fleeing Chechnya, where he served prison time on charges of having ties with separatists and was tortured.
In Chechnya, Gadaev was convicted for having an alleged weapons cache that had been discovered the day he had returned to Russia from France for the first time in nearly a decade.
Speaking to BBC’s Russian Service, Gadaev’s wife said her husband’s trial was hastily organized without the knowledge of human rights activists following the case.
Oleg Orlov, a senior member of Memorial, told AFP that Gadaev’s case was trumped up and that he apparently refused to be defended by independent lawyers due to pressure.
Under Kadyrov, Chechnya’s security services are notorious for carrying human rights abuses against political opponents.
With reporting by AFP, RFE/RL’s Caucasus Service, and BBC Russian