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UN Calls for Release of Turkmen Activists

Turkmenistan -- Independence day celebration in Ashgabat, 26 October 2010

Turkmenistan -- Independence day celebration in Ashgabat, 26 October 2010

A UN-mandated body says Turkmenistan's
continued jailing of human rights activists Annakurban Amanklychev and
Sapardurdy Khadzhiev is a violation of international law, RFE/RL's Turkmen
Service reports.

In a statement, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the
Turkmen government to release the two men. The statement was made in response
to a petition filed by the U.S.-based rights organization Freedom Now and law
firm Hogan Lovells (formerly Hogan & Hartson).

Amanklychev and Khadzhiev, members of the Bulgarian-based Turkmenistan Helsinki
Foundation, were arrested in June 2006 along with RFE/RL correspondent
Ogulsapar Muradova.

The three had been providing information about the human rights situation in
Turkmenistan to foreign media outlets. They were publicly accused of "gathering
slanderous information to spread public discontent."

Amanklychev and Khadzhiev were sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and
Muradova to six years; Muradova was found dead in her prison cell in September

Hogan Lovells' Craig Lewis told RFE/RL that the trial for the three violated
international standards of due process of law.

"It is our position that there is no legal basis for continuing to hold them
and we would expect that consistent with the opinion of the working group,
Turkmenistan would release them," Lewis said.

The case of Amanklychev and Khadzhiev has also been discussed at recent
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summits held in Warsaw and

This report was compiled by RFE's Turkmen service and O wire.