5 men detained in Siberia in connection with Islamic extremism

Five men were detained in Siberia on suspicion of belonging to the outlawed Islamic extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Federal Security Service said Tuesday.

The press service of the FSB's Tyumen regional department said the five had been taken into custody on May 11. It declined to give any other details, saying they could prejudice the investigation.

A non-governmental organization, the Civic Assistance Committee, said that security forces had raided an apartment in the city of Tobolsk where the five were meeting, and forced them to lie on the floor for seven hours.

One of the five managed to flee while he was being taken out of the apartment, and two of the suspects were freed in subsequent days in return for a promise not to leave the city, Civic Assistance said. The two remaining detainees are in a Tobolsk jail, where they face charges of creating a criminal group in addition to the extremism charges, the group said, adding that Islamic literature and pamphlets had been found during a search of the apartment.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir advocates the creation of an Islamic state in Central Asia and has been banned in Russia as well as in the former Soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The group claims to reject violence.

Civic Assistance said that criminal investigations of alleged Hizb ut-Tahrir members were also under way in the Russian regions of Tatarstan, Samara and Orenburg. Not one of the 48 people who have been convicted previously on charges of belonging to the banned group has been found guilty of committing violent acts or being tied with terrorism, the group said, reports the AP.

I.L.

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