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Saparmamed Nepeskuliev

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has raised concerns over the fate of a correspondent of RFE/RL's Turkmen Service.

The Paris-based organization said on September 8 that Saparmamed Nepeskuliev had been held incommunicado for the past two months, and called on Turkmen authorities "to provide full details about his current status and his possible conviction, and to free him without delay."

Nepeskuliev's relatives told RFE/RL they had learned on September 4 that he was sentenced to three years in prison on August 31.

Turkmen authorities have not officially confirmed the sentence.

Nepeskuliev, 35, disappeared in July while visiting the Caspian coastal resort area of Avaza.

His relatives later tracked him down at a detention center in a settlement near Avaza.

Authorities at the facility said he was being held for possessing "narcotic" pills.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has condemned an ongoing crackdown on civil society in Azerbaijan.

In a statement issued on September 8, Zeid said “undue pressure, harassment, and intimidation against journalists, human rights defenders, and activists by state authorities continue to be reported in Azerbaijan.”

“I call for the immediate release of all those who have been deprived of their liberty simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association or peaceful assembly, as well as for defending the rights of others,” he added.

On September 1, a Baku court sentenced investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, a contributor to RFE/RL, to 7 1/2 years in prison after convicting her on charges that rights groups have called retribution for her reports on corruption involving senior government officials.

Zeid described the sentencing as “just the latest example of the crackdown on independent voices in the country.”

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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