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Turkmenistan30 June 2006

Call for G8 members to react to detention of french media contributor and Radio Free Europe journalist

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Human rights activist, Annakurban Amanklychev - who was working in collaboration with the broadcast company Galaxie-Presse and French TV channel France 2, Ogulsapar Muradova, of US-run Radio Free Europe, her three adult children and two other human rights activists are being held secretly in custody.

“We are urging members of the G8 - which will be meeting at a summit in St Petersburg from 15-17 July - to put pressure on the Turkmen authorities for the release of these seven people,” the press freedom organisation said.

"The international community must urgently react to protect freedom of expression in Turkmenistan. This country is one of the worst in the world in terms of respect for human rights and press freedom. It is the responsibility of all of us to condemn this state of affairs and to do our utmost so that Turkmen journalists and human rights activists no longer suffer such harassment.”

Journalist Catherine Berthillier of Galaxie-Presse had contacted Annakurban Amanklychev in March this year to make a film ‘travel diary on Turkmenistan’ for the France 2 documentary programme “Envoyé Spécial”. Amanklychev was arrested on 16 June. Witnesses who saw him at the offices of the National Security Ministry said, “He is being interrogated night and day and with extreme brutality. He has become unrecognisable and there are fears for his life.”

Ogulsapar Muradova, correspondent in Turkmenistan for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was arrested in Ashgabat on 18 June. Members of the security forces went to her home and took her to the interior ministry without any arrest warrant or official summons. The same services have been holding her children, Sona, Maral and Berdy Muradova since 19 June. There has been no news of two human rights activists, Elena Ovezova and Sapardurdy Khajiyev, who were also arrested on 16 June.

The official accusations against the journalist and the other arrested human rights activists arrested were reported on the Ashgabat TV, controlled by the President Separmurad Nyazov. The authorities reportedly suspect them of being behind a plot against the head of state.

Click on the french press release in order to read France 2 press release and Galaxy Press, press release.

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