Crimean Tatar leaders freed from prison, flown to Turkey

Crimean Tatar leaders freed from prison, flown to Turkey”

Ukrainian authorities say Crimean Tatar leaders Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, who were recently sentenced to prison terms by Russian courts, have been released from custody and are headed for Turkey.

Chiygoz was convicted of organizing an illegal demonstration and sentenced to eight years in prison on September 11 after what Amnesty International called a "sham trial".

Ilmi Umerov was sentenced to two years for allegedly inciting violence and mass riots.

"Thank you to the President of the Republic of Turkey @RT_Erdogan for his efforts to free our heroes, as we have agreed in NY and Kiev", Poroshenko said. "The common struggle for the liberation of all Ukrainian citizens and their return to home continues", he said.

According to Mustafa Jemilev, the Ukrainian president's authorized representative for Crimean Tatar people affairs, Chyigoz and Umerov were first taken to Simferopol, then a plane took them to Anapa, and later they left in a plan for Turkey.

Dzhemilev added that this extradition was made possible due to agreements reached during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's visit to Ukraine earlier in October.

Western governments and human rights groups said that they were imprisoned for speaking out against Russia's annexation of Crimea, and pressed Moscow to release them.

Along with many United Nations countries, the US, the European Union and Turkey also do not recognize Crimea as Russian territory. As a result, the roughly 400,000-strong nation experienced repression, including arbitrary arrests and detentions.

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