Man tortured for Britain finds asylum – in the US

Guard who refused to be a spy says UK turned its back on him

Britain has been attacked by human rights campaigners over its “shameful” failure to aid a British embassy guard who had to flee his home country with his family after he was brutally tortured.

Critics claimed the UK should be “embarrassed” by its failure to protect an employee after it was revealed that the US, not Britain, has offered sanctuary to Kayum Ortikov, his wife, Mohira, and their four children.

Mr Ortikov, 44, worked as a security guard for the British embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, for several years. He was allegedly tortured for refusing to become an informer for the secret police of the dictatorship, which is notorious for its human rights abuses.

Mr Ortikov’s ordeal began after he was imprisoned in 2008. Shortly after The IoS raised the issue with the authorities, in 2011, he was suddenly freed from prison. The Ortikov family managed to flee their homeland in 2012 and have lived as refugees in Ukraine ever since.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees typically approaches countries where asylum-seekers may have relatives or other connections. In Mr Ortikov’s case, his service to the British embassy would have provided such a link to the UK. While it is not known whether Britain was approached, it is clear that the US was prepared to take in the family.

They will be resettled in Pennsylvania and their case is being dealt with by the International Organization for Migration.

Mr Ortikov is angry at his treatment. “The country I so loyally served has done nothing but turn its back on us. No offer of political asylum. Not even any aid to help with the physical and psychological effects of my torture,” he said.

Mrs Ortikov added: “We wanted to come to Britain so badly, but we would have been waiting for ever if America had not offered to take us in. We are relieved that the US government has taken this step to offer us refuge.”

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We have long been keen to see a positive outcome for the Ortikov family.” The FCO said that its  officials “repeatedly intervened with the Uzbek authorities on behalf of Mr Ortikov after we became aware of allegations of mistreatment”.

Steve Swerdlow at Human Rights Watch said: “The lack of responsiveness by the Government has been really shocking and shameful.”

But Sir Menzies Campbell, of the foreign affairs select committee, said: “It must surely be an embarrassment to the Government that someone who served our interests and was persecuted for it should be welcomed into the US but not into the country to which he was most loyal.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas