Uzbekistan expels 8 US 'missionaries'

Tashkent, Uzbekistan - Uzbekistan has expelled eight American nationals from the Central Asian country on charges of making “unlawful” attempts to convert local Uzbeks to Christianity.

Under the guise of businessmen or English language teachers, the eight US nationals "carried out unlawful missionary activity to attract Uzbek students” to Christianity, AFP reported, citing a report on the state-run Uzbek website,

"Notably, the foreigners were fluent in Uzbek and called themselves with Uzbek names such as Jahongir, Husan, Jasur, Farhod," the report said.

The US Embassy in the Uzbek capital Tashkent declined to comment on the incident.

Uzbekistan previously deported another US citizen and seven South Koreans on similar charges.

All religious missionary work is banned in Uzbekistan, which is a predominantly Muslim nation with 90 percent of its 28 million citizens practicing the Islamic faith.