August 31, 2018 / 1:05 AM / 4 months ago

Colorado man sentenced to 11 years for aiding Uzbek militants

DENVER (Reuters) - A Colorado man convicted of providing material support to a U.S.-designated terrorist group in his native Uzbekistan was sentenced on Thursday to 11 years in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver said.

Jamshid Muhtorov, 42, lived in the United States as a political refugee from Uzbekistan, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. He was convicted in June of trying to smuggle smartphones and other electronic equipment to the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU), a Pakistan-based group that opposes secular rule in Uzbekistan and seeks to install a government based on Islamic law.

“Defending our country from terrorism is a core mission of the Department of Justice,” U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer said in a statement, adding that IJU is designated a terrorist organisation by the United States.

U.S. District Judge John Kane gave Muhtorov credit for the six years he has been in custody while awaiting trial, and ordered him turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation proceedings once he completes his sentence.

Muhtorov was arrested in 2012 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago as he attempted to board a flight for Istanbul, Turkey, according to a criminal complaint. FBI agents intercepted his communications with a known IJU operative.

A co-defendant, Bakhtiyor Jumaev, was convicted of similar charges at a separate trial in April.

Muhtorov’s lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the Denver Post newspaper reported that defence attorney Warren Williamson argued that his client should be sentenced to time served because the alleged plot was never carried out.

Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Lisa Shumaker

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