Kyrgyzstan Pressured by Rights Group

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- U.S.-based Human Rights Watch is urging Kyrgyzstan not to extradite an Uzbek asylum seeker, saying he could face torture if returned to his homeland.

Western rights groups have accused Kyrgyzstan of forcibly returning Uzbek refugees since 2005, when hundreds of people fled Uzbekistan after a state crackdown on a protest in Andijan.

Human Rights Watch said an Uzbek asylum seeker identified as Yerkin Kholikov, accused at home of religious extremism, is serving a 4-year prison sentence in Kyrgyzstan on charges of illegal border crossing and other crimes.

"If he's sent back, he'll face a serious risk of torture or other ill treatment," the group said.

It did not say when he left Uzbekistan.

In a statement issued on the third anniversary of the Andijan riot this week, the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan said there was "still much to learn about this tragedy."