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MINSK -- A civil rights activist in Belarus, Tamara Syarhey, says she was forcibly taken to a police station on June 23 without being charged in order to prevent her from attending a protest rally in Minsk.

Syarhey told RFE/RL by telephone while in police custody on June 23 that several plainclothes police detained her in the morning near her home as she tried to travel to a pensioners' rally against "lawlessness in Belarus courts."

Syarhey said the men forced her into a police car and brought her to a police station.

She said they explained that she was detained as a result of a lawsuit she filed in May against the chief of the Minsk City Police, Alyaksandr Barsukou.

Syarhey was still being held by police hours after being detained.

She said her detention was illegal because it violated her right to free movement.

RFE/RL Turkmen Journalist Held Incommunicado
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Alternative Turkmenistan News (ATN), based in the Netherlands, has interviewed a Kazakh man who claimed he shared a jail cell with Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, a contributor to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service and other independent outlets, who has been held at an undisclosed location for almost a year on charges that are widely believed to have been fabricated.

Nepeskuliev, 35, went missing 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.

Saparmamed Nepeskuliev
Saparmamed Nepeskuliev

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

Nepeskuliev's relatives told RFE/RL in September 2015 that they had learned that he had been sentenced to three years in prison on August 31.

The man in the video -- whose name is given as Yerik Supushev -- said that he had been charged with contraband by a Turkmen court in 2015 before being released in January.

He says that he and Nepeskuliev were treated harshly in prison because of Nepeskuliev's work as a journalist for RFE/RL and that Nepeskuliev failed a drugs test because he had been set up by authorities after innocently taking medicine for a stomachache.

(The full video can be seen here.)

Reporters Without Borders has long called on Turkmen authorities to provide full details about Nepeskuliev's current status "and to free him without delay."

Turkmenistan consistently ranks at the bottom of world rankings for press freedom.

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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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