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RFE/RL Turkmen Correspondent Still in Prison

(Prague, Czech Republic, August 9, 2006) A Turkmen correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Ashgabat has now been held in a prison in Turkmenistan for more than seven weeks, without charge and without access to legal counsel.

RFE/RL has learned that repeated attempts by a lawyer to see Ogulsapar Muradova failed again yesterday. RFE/RL Acting President Jeff Trimble said, “even by Turkmenistan standards, this is blatant disregard for the law,” adding that “RFE/RL will continue to do all it can to secure Ogulsapar Muradova’s release, no matter how long it takes.”

No one has seen Muradova since she was taken away by police June 18. Her three adult children were arrested the next day and held for nearly two weeks, also without charge, before being released July 1.

RFE/RL wrote to Turkmen Minister of Foreign Affairs Rashid Meredov in mid-July, stating that Muradova is being detained illegally and urging her immediate release. In the letter, RFE/RL asked for information about Muradova’s whereabouts and permission to speak with her “as soon as possible,” but has received no reply. Reports have been published that Muradova is being subjected to harsh treatment, in an effort to force a confession of illegal activity.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an independent federal agency that oversees all U.S. international non-military broadcasting, including RFE/RL, issued a statement July 13, demanding that Ogulsapar Muradova be released immediately. Major U.S. and international human rights groups have also condemned the Turkmen government for continuing to keep Muradova in prison and incommunicado. They include Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, the International Helsinki Federation and Reporters Without Borders.

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, at