On June 16, Alexander Sodiqov, political science PhD candidate at the University of Toronto, was arrested in Tajikistan on alleged charges of espionage and spying.

Sodiqov, a citizen of Tajikistan, was near the border of Afghanistan when he was arrested. He was conducting research for a project called “Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia” when he was arrested. The aim of the research project was to find ways to prevent violence in Tajikistan, according to Edward Schatz, Sodiqov’s PhD supervisor. Sodiqov has been held since June 16 and has had limited contact with family.

“We hope that the professional, fair-minded individuals working in government structures in Tajikistan will recognize Alexander Sodiqov for who he is, which is a talented, young scholar,” said Schatz.

According to John Heathershaw, supervisor of the research project, Sodiqov was arrested when he was interviewing local activist Alim Sherzamonov.

At this point, the charges against Sodiqov are unclear.

With files from the Toronto Star

Update (June 21, 2014): According to a source with ties to the family, Sodiqov has been charged with high treason. On June 18, the University of Toronto issued the following statement, “The University of Toronto is deeply concerned about the safety of Mr. Sodiqov and his family. The university encourages the authorities in Tajikistan to ensure full protection of Mr. Sodiqov’s rights.”