German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a visit to Kyrgyzstan has welcomed the country's decision to send for review the case of an ethnic Uzbek journalist jailed for life.

Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to release Azimzhan Askarov who is serving a life sentence after being convicted of stirring up ethnic hatred, but instead sent his case to a regional court for review. International rights groups consider him a prisoner of conscience.

The charges against Askarov relate to ethnic unrest in the south of Kyrgyzstan in 2010 when more than 450 people, mostly ethnic Uzbeks, were killed and tens or even hundreds of thousands were displaced.

Merkel, who raised Askarov's case with the Kyrgyz president during talks in Bishkek on Thursday, expressed hope that Askarov will get a fair trial.