Ferat Sayfullaev

Occupation:

civic activist

Lawyer:

Emil Kurbedinov

Incrimination:

Part Two of Article 205.5 of the Russian Criminal Code (participation in the activities of an organization recognized as ‘terrorist’ in Russia, namely the local cell of the Islamic Party of Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami)

Captured:

Apr. 2, 2015

Sentence:

5 years in general regime penal colony; Released on 31 March 2020 due to the expiration of period of imprisonment

Ferat Sayfullaev was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on July 21, 1983.  He resided in Sevastopol with his wife and three children until his arrest.

As a student, Ferat was interested in religion and attended Koran lessons. After graduating from high school in 2000, he enrolled in a madrasah, and a year later at Saudi Arabia’s International Islamic University of Medina. Along with religious sciences, he studied economics – in 2005, Ferat entered the branch of Vadim Hetman National University in Simferopol, where he received a bachelor’s degree in management in 2010. Since 2012 Ferat was the head of the Avdet community and an imam in the village of Orlyne in Sevastopol. He took an active part in community work, organized religious holidays, conducted religious rituals.

On 2 April 2015, Ferat was arrested and accused of participating in the activity of the Islamic Party of Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami) in the villages of Orlyne, Tylove, and Shturmove (Sevastopol’s Balaklava District).

Ferat has not pled guilty refused to witness against himself during the investigation. He is positioning himself as a human rights activist and public figure. Ferat was engaged in an intense public activity, took part in the organization and carrying out of various events. He has a lot of friends and acquaintances of different confessions and ethnic origins.

Ferat was the head of a Muslim community, which was in charge of a plot that was claimed on by the local authorities and state security officers. After the illegal annexation of Crimea, those officers betrayed their oath and defected to Russia’s Security Service. Therefore they had a personal motive to take revenge on Sayfullaev.

On 7 September 2016, the North Caucasus District Military Court sentenced Ferat to 5 years in a general regime penal colony. He was released on 31 March 2020 due to the expiration of his imprisonment term. However, he will remain under administrative surveillance for 8 years. In January 2020, other defendants in the case of the Sevastopol cell of “Hizb ut-Tahrir” were released as well – Nuri Primov and Rustem Vaitov. Ruslan Zeytullaev, who was accused of being the “cell’s” leader, was sentenced to 15 years in prison and remains behind bars.

Photos of Sayfullaev’s release are below.

⚡️ФЕРАТ САЙФУЛЛАЕВ ВЫШЕЛ ИЗ РОССИЙСКОЙ КОЛОНИИ В ОМУТНИНСКЕ, ОТБЫВ 5-ЛЕТНИЙ СРОКТретий фигурант севастопольской группы…

Опубліковано Крымская солидарность Вівторок, 31 березня 2020 р.

Exculpatory evidence

The criminal case of Ferat Sayfullaev and Ruslan Zeytullaev (another Crimean Muslim from Sevastopol) was based on the reports of a former Ukrainian security officer Kozhemyaka who betrayed his oath and is now in Russian service. He started submitting them right after the Russian annexation of Crimea.

The conflict between the future defendants and Kozhemyaka started back in 2012 and resulted from the corruption schemes of the local security authorities. The Crimean Tatar community was allocated a plot for building a mosque. According to the lawyer Emil Kurbedinov, the security officers, including Kozhemyaka, also laid a claim to the plot. This suggests that Kozhemyaka had a personal motivation to accuse those Crimean Muslims.

Multiple violations took place in the course of the investigation:

  • The court hearings regarding the extension of the preventive measure to Sayfullaev were not transparent. The audience was barred from entering the courtroom under various pretexts.
  • The court violated the Sayfullaev’s right for defense by denying the presence of a public defender at the court hearings along with the lawyer.
  • The court denied the access of the defense to the case materials that substantiated the prolongation of the detention term.
  • The court dismissed the application of the defense on the disqualification of the judge filed on the basis of the abovementioned facts that point at his direct or indirect interest in the outcome of the case.
  • The investigator did not provide the lawyer and the defendant with copies of the case materials. Thereby they were deprived of the possibility to file a relevant complaint and other rights guaranteed by Russian and international law.
  • The investigator dismissed the application of the defense on the disqualification of the expert on the basis of his incompetence and bias.
  • The investigation has kept secret the locations of the expertises, which contradicts Russia’s procedural law.

According to the independent Russian human rights media project OVD-info, members of the organization’s cells are accused and sentenced to various terms in a maximum-security colony only on the basis of meeting in apartments and reading religious literature.

According to the Memorial Human Rights Center, this wave of persecution in Russia began on 14 February 2003, when the Russian Supreme Court, having examined in a closed court hearing a civil case on the application of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, declared 15 Islamic organizations terrorist and banned their activities on the territory of the Russian Federation. One of the banned organizations was Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The motivation of the decision of the Russian Supreme Court does not contain any data on the terrorist activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir in accordance with the definition of terrorism given in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and the Federal Law of the Russian Federation “On Combating Terrorism” of 7 March 1998, which is obvious grounds for declaring this decision unfounded.

Despite the fact that the Hizb ut-Tahrir organization has not carried out a single terrorist attack since its inception (1953), it has been recognized as terrorist in Russia and its members are unjustifiably tried as terrorists. The anti-extremist and anti-terrorism legislation of Russia is gradually turning into a repressive tool to combat dissent and peaceful assembly.

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