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Four Crimean Tatars Jailed on Terrorism Charges

A military court in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don has sentenced four Crimean Tatars found guilty of terrorism charges.

The men were found to belong to Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Islamic organization banned in Russia.

The court sentenced Ruslan Zaytullaev, who had been charged with attempting to organize a branch of the organization in the Crimean city of Sevastopol  to seven years in a prison colony. The remaining three men —Ferat Sayfullaev, Rustem Vaitov and Yuriy Primov — were given five years in prison.

The men taped their mouths shut while in court, each wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the words “Crimean Tatars” and “the show is over."

The four men were arrested in the winter of 2015. Fourteen Crimean Tatars has since been accused of belonging to the organization.

Human rights activists have criticized Russia's decision to classify the group as terrorist. Hizb ut-Tahrir operated legally under Ukrainian law before Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

In July, Russian human rights group Memorial called the four Crimean Tatars "political prisoners".

“We have repeated many times that the Russian Supreme Court had no base in calling Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organization," Memorial said in a statement. "At the moment, there is not a single case of members trying to commit or preparing to organize a terrorist attack anywhere in the world. In Western Europe and North America, the party is not banned (aside for Germany where there is an administrative, but not criminal ban). There is no evidence that they are a danger to society,” the group said.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is a terrorist organization banned in Russia.

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