Jun 24

Write to your MP about Alexander Sodiqov

Please support the release of Alexander Sodiqov, a researcher of the University of Exeter, held incommunicado and charged with Treason in Tajikistan for conducting research on a project funded by the ESRC, ‘Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Tajikistan’.

If you send the letter to your MP before 2 July you may ask your MP to ask William Hague to raise the matter with Mr Aslov, the Foreign Minister of Tajikistan, on his visit to the UK.


Dear Ben,

We, the undersigned staff of the Department of Politics of the University of Exeter, are writing to you regarding the case of Alexander Sodiqov, a researcher employed by the University of Exeter to conduct research on a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) on conflict management in Central Asia.

Alexander was detained on 16 June whilst conducting an interview in the city of Khorog, Tajikistan, and has been held incommunicado and accused of treason since that time by the State Committee on National Security.  The charges against him remain uncertain and no evidence has been offered to support them. However, the offence of treason under article 305 carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

For background information, UK press attention and statements by the University of Exeter and the ESRC see:

Our colleague, Dr John Heathershaw, who was in the country at the time of Alexander’s arrest, and received the support of the UK Embassy to flee the country, is briefing the Exeter press today.

This is a vital matter of academic freedom and basic human rights that puts UK researchers and university staff at risk in Tajikistan.

It is also a terrible violation of the human rights of a young husband, father and citizen of Tajikistan.

The UK’s relationship with Tajikistan is under question as it stands accused of meddling and ‘espionage’ whilst it has given tens of millions of pounds in aid to Tajikistan and is trying to conclude a ‘gifting package’ of military and dual-use items to the country.

Please write to Foreign Secretary William Hague asking him to raise this matter with the Tajik authorities and, especially with Foreign Minister Aslov, who is visiting the UK and will be at Parliament on Wednesday 2 July.  Please also try and attend that meeting, organised by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Tajikistan (Baroness Vivienne Stern, Nigel Mills MP) and raise your concerns.

Please request that Mr Hague ask for the charges against Alexander to be made known and that his wife his given access to him.  Please also ask for Alexander to be treated fairly and that evidence is presented to justify the accusations of treason.

We ask you to give this grave matter your urgent attention.

Yours sincerely,


Dr John Heathershaw, Associate Professor of International Relations

Prof Andrew Massey, Head of Department

Dr Travis Coan

Ms Jenny Wlasak

Dr Rob Lamb

Dr Klejda Mulaj

Professor Nicole Bolleyer

Professor Dario Castiglione

Dr Sarah Bulmer

Dr Stephen Greasley

Dr Victoria Basham

Dr Jess Gifkins

Dr Sandra Kroeger

Professor Michael Winter OBE

Dr Bice Maiguashca

Dr Andrew Schaap

Ms Emily Barrett

Dr Alex Pritchard

Ms Jemma Buddle

Dr Claire Dunlop

Dr Matthew Lobley

Dr David Lewis

Dr Jason Reifler

Professor Michael Dumper




Dr John Heathershaw

Associate Professor of International Relations

Department of Politics

University of Exeter

Mob: +44 7983 429 040

Off: +44 1392 264 185