Tajik judicial authorities have extended the prison term handed down to human rights lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov.

Tajikistan’s Supreme Court sentenced Buzurgmehr Yorov, who is serving a 23-year jail term, to an additional two years behind bars on March 15.

Yorov’s relatives say the Supreme Court found him guilty of contempt of court and insulting a government official.

Recall, a prosecutor on March 14 asked the judge to add two additional years to Yorov’s 23-year jail term.  

Buzurgmehr Yorov reportedly got additional jail term for reading out an 11th-century poem in court.

As he sat in the dock during a court hearing in October, Yorov, according to an eyewitness who spoke to Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service, read a poem by Omar Khayyam during the closed-door trial:


With these ignorant few who foolishly

Consider themselves the intelligent ones of the world

Should be donkeys, because they are so deep in donkeyness

That they call "blasphemous" whomever is not a donkey


The reading reportedly led to a heated exchange between the defendant and the prosecutor Rustam Taqdirzoda, who considers that Yorov insulted him as a representative of state authorities.

In October last year, the Dushanbe City Court found Buzurgmehr Yorov guilty on charges of issuing public calls for the overthrow of the government and inciting social unrest.  He was sentenced to 23 years in prison. 

Yorov pleaded not guilty and called his trial politically motivated.

Yorov was a lawyer of 13 members and leaders of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), a group that was banned in 2015 as a terrorist organization.

Dozens of party members have been arrested.

Yorov is among at least five human rights attorneys who have been targeted by authorities in Tajikistan in connection with their work, prompting the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch and other rights groups to call for their immediate and unconditional release.