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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Uzbeks Close U.S. Groups

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- A court in Uzbekistan has ordered two U.S.-funded education groups to close, officials said Thursday, the latest organizations to be shut down amid a continuing crackdown on foreign nonprofit groups.

Global Involvement Through Education was ordered to close Wednesday after the Tashkent City Court concluded it was trying to convert people in the predominantly Muslim country to Christianity, a government-run web site said, citing the Uzbek Justice Ministry.

On Thursday, the Uzbek court ordered the closure of the American Council for Collaboration in Education and Language Study, saying it was sending Uzbek students on training programs to the United States without authorities' approval.

Regional director Michael Curtis confirmed the closure, but declined further comment.

The Washington-based nonprofit group, which is part of the American Councils for International Education, has operated in Uzbekistan since 1992.

Authorities have waged a campaign against Western-funded aid groups and media in recent years, accusing them of supporting dissidents. The crackdown intensified after the 2005 uprising in Andijan. In April, four English language teachers from Global Involvement Through Education were fined for what authorities said were efforts to convert students to "a religion of Protestant character." Officials from the Colorado-based organization could not be immediately reached for comment.