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RFE/RL Turkmen Correspondent Held Incommunicado

(Prague, Czech Republic — June 29, 2006) Turkmen authorities continue, for a second week, to hold incommunicado Ogulsapar Muradova, an Ashgabat-based freelance correspondent for RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service.

No one has seen Muradova since she was taken away by Turkmen police on Sunday, June 18. Her three adult children were arrested the next day, on June 19. Neither Muradova not her family have been allowed a lawyer and they have not been charged with any crime. All are believed to be held in the building of the Turkmen Interior Ministry in Ashgabat.

RFE/RL Acting President Jeff Trimble condemned the unlawful procedure and said concern is growing at RFE/RL: “With each passing day, we at RFE/RL are getting more worried about what might be happening to Ogulsapar and her children.” Trimble also said the Turkmen government is mistaken if it thinks people will forget about Muradova. He said, “Free journalists everywhere are shocked and outraged by such treatment of a colleague. We will continue to work for her release and the release of her three children.”

Several U.S. and international human rights groups have condemned the arrests and spoken out in support of Muradova, including Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch., the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Reporters Without Borders, the Turkmen Helsinki Foundation, the Turkmenistan Initiative for Human Rights.

This is the third arrest this year of RFE/RL Turkmen correspondents. In March, two correspondents in Turkmenistan’s Mary region, Meret Khommadov and Jumadurdy Ovezov were arrested and sentenced but released after 10 days, following an international outcry. A fourth RFE/RL correspondent, Gurbandurdy Durdykuliev, incarcerated for two and a half years in a mental institution, was also released suddenly in April after an international campaign and intervention by 54 members of the U.S. Congress.

RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service broadcasts six hours of programming a day to Turkmenistan, produced in Prague and transmitted to listeners via shortwave, medium wave and satellite broadcasts. Turkmen Service programming is also available via the Internet, at; English-language news about events in Turkmenistan can be found on the RFE/RL website.