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Turkmen Writer Released From Jail

Ashgabat, 10 March 2004 (RFE/RL) - Turkmen writer and correspondent Rakhim Esenov was released from detention today, but remains confined to the Turkmen capital Ashgabat.

The 78-year-old writer and correspondent for U.S.-funded Radio Liberty was arrested last month on charges he had smuggled copies of his own book, published in Russia, into Turkmenistan.

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov said the book contained "historic crimes" in its writing.

Esenov was released but he said he was warned to stop his work with the radio station. "The involvement of the international organizations [helped] -- the American Embassy, the British Embassy, the OSCE, sent protest notes demanding my release," he said. " But I also got very big support from you, Radio Liberty. "

Another correspondent with Radio Liberty, Ashyrguly Bayryev, reportedly remained in prison.

Amnesty International, reporting earlier this month that Bayryev had been detained, said it feared he was at risk of being tortured or ill-treated.

It was unclear if any charges have been filed against Bayryev.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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