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RFE/RL Loses Contact With Turkmen Correspondents

(RFE/RL) PRAGUE, March 29, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Turkmen Service has again lost contact with two journalists recently released from jail in Turkmenistan.

Meret Khommadov and Jumadurdy Ovezov were arrested on March 7 in Turkmenistan's Mary province for alleged hooliganism at a local community meeting. They were released on March 16.

Telephone contact with Khommadov was restored on March 23, after which he made a public statement about his detention. RFE/RL's last contact with him was on March 24.

Ovezov, who has a grave kidney illness, has no home phone. RFE/RL had relied on Khommadov for updates on his condition.

In a statement, RFE/RL Acting President Jeff Trimble accused the Turkmen authorities of engaging in "a cynical cat-and-mouse game of intimidation that blatantly disregards basic human rights to freedom of expression."

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

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