MOSCOW, October 25 (RAPSI) – The deputy chairman of Majlis of Crimean Tatars, Ilmi Umerov, who was found guilty of calls for separatism earlier this year, was freed from prison on Wednesday and is now en route to Turkey, Umerov’s lawyer Mark Feygin wrote on his Twitter account.

“He was freed and is on his way to Ankara. How he was freed and why Ankara, I can’t say. He will make his own statement later,” Feygin wrote.

On September 27, the Simferopol District Court in Crimea sentenced Umerov to two years in a penal colony for calls for separatism. The court’s ruling read that the convict is prohibited from participating in social activities.

Another lawyer, Nikolay Polozov, said that this ruling equates death sentence for Umerov considering the latter’s problems with health and subpar quality of healthcare in Russian penitentiary facilities. He added that the sentence is “disproportionately tough” because of Umerov’s Crimean Tatar nationality. The lawyer expressed concern that the convict may be transferred outside Crimea to restrict his meetings with lawyers and relatives.

On January 30, Investigative Department of the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) Directorate for Crimea and Sevastopol charged Umerov with public calls for separatism.

In the spring of 2016, a criminal case over calls for violation of Russia’s territorial integrity was launched against Umerov. He was questioned by the FSB and as a suspect in the case pledged not to leave country.

On April 26, the Supreme Court of Crimea granted a lawsuit filed by then republic’s Prosecutor Natalia Poklonskaya and banned the Majlis of Crimean Tatars as extremist organization. This ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court of Russia on September 29, 2016.

On May 20, the Moscow City Court ruled that Dzhemilev, along with another leader of the Majlis, Refat Chubarov, are banned from entering Crimea for five years. The regional officials claim that the Tatar leaders’ activity incited inter-ethnic hatred.