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Case of RFE/RL Turkmen Correspondent Submitted for Trial

(Prague, Czech Republic -- August 22, 2006) A correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan is to be put on trial after spending more than two months in prison incommunicado.

RFE/RL has learned that security authorities in Turkmenistan have sent the case of Ogulsapar Muradova to the municipal court in Ashgabat to be scheduled for trial. The case of co-defendant Sapardurdy Khajiev will be the first to be tried, on August 25; Khajiev is accused of possessing an illegal weapon. No date is known for Muradova's trial or that of a third defendant, Annakurban Amanklychev. But sources following the case expect court proceedings against Muradova to start soon, possibly before the end of August. The charges against her remain unknown.

RFE/RL Acting President Jeff Trimble said that "We continue to protest Muradova's arrest and detention in the strongest terms. If she is put on trial, one can only hope that Muradova will have legal representation and that the proceedings will be transparent, with independent observers allowed in the courtroom." Trimble noted that, "In holding Muradova for this length of time, without charge and without access to legal counsel, the Turkmen government is in gross violation of its own laws as well as all international norms."

Ogulsapar Muradova was taken away from her home in Ashgabat by police on June 18; no one has been allowed to see her since. Her family was allowed twice to send her a package of food and medication, but repeated attempts by a lawyer to see Muradova have been unsuccessful.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an independent federal agency that oversees U.S. international broadcasting, including RFE/RL, issued a statement July 13, demanding that Ogulsapar Muradova be released. Major U.S. and international human rights groups have also condemned the Turkmen government for continuing to keep Muradova in prison.They include Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, the International Helsinki Federation and Reporters Without Borders. RFE/RL has also issued several statements concerning Muradova's arrest and detention, on June 21, June 29, July 17 and August 9.

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.