A University of Toronto researcher held in Tajikistan for more than a month on suspicion of treason has been released.
Alexander Sodiqov, a doctoral student in political science and a Tajik national, was detained by security forces in that country on June 16 while conducting an interview for a research project on power and conflict in Central Asia.
On Tuesday, Sodiqov was released from custody, but still cannot leave the country, according to Edward Schatz, Sodiqov’s PhD supervisor.
The research student is now at a home in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, with his wife and daughter, Schatz said.
“He doesn’t seem to have been mistreated, which is great,” he added.
However, Sodiqov is not out of the woods yet.
“He was required to sign a document that essentially requires that he stay in the country, Tajikistan, pending the outcome of the investigation, which is ongoing,” Schatz said.
Sodiqov has not been officially charged with any crime but continues to be a “person of interest” in a case of high treason, Schatz said.
“Those are significant allegations even if they’re not formal charges,” he added.
The news of Sodiqov’s release was announced Tuesday in a short statement from the University of Exeter in England, where Sodiqov was under contract for his three-week research project in Tajikistan.
“It’s a slightly difficult situation because obviously it is still delicate about saying too much,” a spokesperson for the British university said Wednesday.
One of the apparent conditions of Sodiqov’s release is that he avoids giving media interviews.
The University of Toronto issued a statement on Sodiqov’s release Tuesday saying, “We look forward to the case being formally concluded so that Alexander can return to his studies here in Canada.”
Schatz said he is very happy to hear of his student’s release but will not be celebrating until his return home.
“We will continue to express our concern about the eventual outcome until the time is that he’s back in Toronto,” Schatz said. “He owes me a dissertation proposal and I’m not going to let him off the hook that easily.”