When Mansur Maqsudi divorced the daughter of Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov, Maqsudi bought himself a load of trouble — and his lawyer found himself in a bind. Maqsudi is an American of Afghan-Uzbek extraction who, in partnership with The Coca-Cola Co., formerly operated a lucrative bottling plant in Uzbekistan through his family firm, ROZ Trading Ltd. In 1991 Maqsudi married Gulnora Karimova, the Harvard-educated daughter of President Karimov of Uzbekistan, a nation that is ranked by the nonprofit Freedom House as one of the eight “Worst of the Worst” human rights offenders, alongside Sudan and North Korea.

This proved to be a good career move only in the short term. After the marriage collapsed in 2001, Maqsudi says, his family in Uzbekistan was deposited on the Afghan border, while his children were spirited from New Jersey to Tashkent, the Uzbeki capital. He also claims that Uzbekistan effectively seized his share of the bottling business and transferred control to a Swiss company in which his ex-wife has a significant interest. Coca-Cola, according to Maqsudi, went along for fear of angering the Karimov clan. Both Coca-Cola and Karimova deny Maqsudi’s allegations.