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Embattled Afghan Vice President Dostum Leaves For Turkey

FILE: Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum (L) walks at his headquarters in Sheberghan, capital of northern Jowzjan Province.

Controversial Afghan Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum has left the country and flown to Turkey, officials say.

Yaseen Khamosh, a media adviser to Dostum, told RFE/RL late on May 19 that Dostum had gone to Turkey for medical reasons.

Later, Bashir Ahmad Tayanj, an Afghan parliament member and the spokesman for Dostum's Junbish Party, said on Ayna TV that Dostum was on a flight to Turkey but would return after receiving medical treatment.

No details about Dostum's health were available.

The reports of Dostum's flight from Afghanistan come amid unresolved accusations that men loyal to him were involved in the kidnapping and abuse of a political rival last year.

The charges led to domestic and international calls for an investigation and for Dostum to be prosecuted.

The Afghan government did not comment on Dostum's future or if his departure was related to his alleged involvement in the abduction.

Tayanj dismissed speculation on social-media sites that Dostum was going into exile.

"General Dostum never leaves the country but remains alongside his people during difficult times," Tayanj said.

A powerful ethnic Uzbek warlord, Dostum has not been charged with any crime in the 2016 detention of Ahmad Ishchi, who said he was abducted by Dostum's militia, beaten, and sexually abused before being released after several days.

Ashraf Ghani was heavily criticized when he chose Dostum to be his vice president ahead of the 2014 presidential election that he won.

With reporting by Reuters and RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Stanikzai Safiullah

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