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RFE/RL Repeats Call for Release of Correspondent in Letter to Turkmenistan's Foreign Minister


(Washington, DC -- July 17, 2006) RFE/RL, Inc. joined the Broadcasting Board of Governors in calling for the release of RFE/RL correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova, who was arrested at her home by security forces in Turkmenistan on June 18.

In a letter to the Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan, H.E. Rashid O. Meredov sent last week, Acting RFE/RL President Jeffrey N. Trimble asks the foreign minister to relay to his government RFE/RL's position that Mrs. Muradova has been illegally detained and should be immediately released.

The letter also points out that, under the Criminal Code of Turkmenistan, Mrs. Muradova can be detained legally without formal charges only for up to 10 days. As of today, she has been held incommunicado for 29 days -- in violation of her rights as a citizen of Turkmenistan, and international conventions.

RFE/RL also requests the assistance of Foreign Minister Meredov in locating Mrs. Muradova and providing an opportunity to speak with her. RFE/RL expresses deep concern for the health and welfare of Mrs. Ogulsapar Muradova, and pledges to continue to work for her release.

On July 13, the Broadcasting Board of Governors adopted a resolution demanding the immediate release of Ogulsapar Muradova. The Broadcasting Board of Governors is the independent federal agency that supervises all U.S. international non-military broadcasting, such as RFE/RL, Inc.

Several U.S. and international human rights groups have condemned Muradova's arrest, 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, and 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 www.rferl.org; English-language news about events in Turkmenistan can be found on the RFE/RL website.
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