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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Report: Uzbek Poet in Danger

MOSCOW -- A poet and opposition leader jailed in the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan has reportedly been tortured in prison, his health is deteriorating and his life may be in danger, Human Rights Watch said late Thursday.

Mamadali Makhmudov, 57, was jailed last August for supporting a banned opposition party in the former Soviet republic. In May, he was transferred to a prison in the northern city of Jaslyk, notorious for brutal treatment of inmates, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.

"He is reported to face punitive treatment, including being forced to sit crouching for extended periods of time with his hands behind his head," the rights group said.

Makhmudov has reportedly lost consciousness several times in prison and is suffering from pain in his chest, sides and back, the statement said. The group did not cite its source.

Shortly after Uzbekistan became independent with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, the Uzbek government honored Makhmudov with the Cholpan Prize for one of his novels. But Makhmudov fell into disfavor and was jailed several times on various charges after he supported the banned opposition party Erk (Freedom).

Uzbek President Islam Karimov has of late cracked down on human rights activists and Islamic movements.