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Ahmet Jumadurdyev was detained in St. Petersburg on January 24.

Russian authorities have released from custody a Turkmen citizen who is wanted in Ashgabat on controversial "extremism" charges.

The Moscow-based Memorial Human Rights center said on January 26 that Ahmet Jumadurdyev was released from police custody overnight in the city of St. Petersburg.

Lawyer Olga Tseitlina told RFE/RL on January 25 that police in St. Petersburg had detained Jumadurdyev the previous day "to check his documents."

Memorial said the decision to release Jumadurdyev was made by the city's prosecutors because he had filed an official request with Russian authorities for asylum, and legally appealed against the Federal Security Service's decision to bar him from the country.

It also noted that the European Court of Human Rights ruled in October 2021 that Jumadurdyev cannot be deported to Turkmenistan until it makes a final ruling on his case.

Jumadurdyev studied at a university in the town of Ivangorod near St. Petersburg from 2013 to 2017.

In 2017, authorities in Turkmenistan added him to their wanted list, accusing him of "religious extremism" after Jumadurdyev started writing in social networks about Turkmen citizens who had received lengthy prison terms after returning to the Central Asian country from Russia.

Jumadurdyev, who rejects all the accusations by Turkmen authorities, was arrested in St. Peterburg at Ashgabat's request and spent one year in a detention center. His cousin was sentenced to 25 years in prison in Turkmenistan in an "extremism case."

Eleven Turkmen citizens who studied in Russian universities were added to the wanted list at the time. Two of them were sentenced to 15 years in prison after they came back home from Russia.

In 2019, Russian authorities rejected Jumadurdyev's claim for refugee status. His request to get asylum in Estonia was also rejected by that country's authorities. Last summer, Jumadurdyev, tried to illegally cross the border between Russia and Estonia, but he was stopped by Estonian border guards and sent back to Russia.

The FSB then banned his presence in the country until July 1, 2055, a move he has appealed.

Narges Mohammadi has been arrested and imprisoned several times.

Iran has sentenced prominent human rights defender Narges Mohammadi to another eight years and two months in prison as well as 74 lashes, her husband says.

Paris-based Taghi Rahmani said on Twitter on January 26 that Mohammadi had called the family from prison on January 25, and informed them that she was also banned from social-media activities and from giving interviews for two years.

Rahmani said the sentence, which also includes a two-year exile from the capital, Tehran, was preliminary.

Mohammadi was arrested in November 2021 after she attended the memorial for a man killed by Iranian security forces during nationwide protests in November 2019. Rahmani later said his wife stood accused of "spying for Saudi Arabia."

Last week, she was transferred from Tehran's Evin prison to the Gharchak women's prison near Tehran.

Before imprisonment, Mohammadi was the vice president of the banned Center for Human Rights Defenders in Iran.

She has been repeatedly jailed and harassed by Iranian authorities.

In May 2021, a Tehran court sentenced her to 2 1/2 years in prison, 80 lashes, and two separate fines on charges that include "spreading propaganda against the system."

In 2016, the activist was sentenced to 16 years in prison on charges that rights groups said were solely related to her human rights activities.

Following her release from prison in October 2020 after her sentenced was reduced, she continued to criticize human rights abuses in Iran, and accused prison authorities of sexually harassing her and other female prisoners.

In March 2021, Mohammadi was among a group of activists who filed an official complaint against the use of solitary confinement against political detainees.

A journalist and an engineer, she has been awarded several prestigious prizes, including the American Physical Society's Andrei Sakharov Prize in 2018 for outstanding leadership in upholding human rights.

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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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