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RSF: Turkmenistan Should Release RFE/RL Journalists

Moscow, 4 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- An international media watchdog today called on Turkmenistan to release two Turkmen journalists.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the Turkmen authorities to release Rakhim Esenov and Ashyrguly Bayryev, two RFE/RL journalists who were arrested on 26 February and 1 March.

RSF said it fears the two journalists could be tortured or badly treated in jail.

Turkmen authorities say Esenov was detained for smuggling copies of his banned novel into the country. It remains unclear why Bayryev was detained.

RFE/RL is a private, international communications service funded by the U.S. Congress.

See RFE/RL Press Release on the arrest of the journalists: Correspondents Arrested, Harassed In Turkmen Crackdown Against RFE/RL