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.”

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home