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RSF Asks Turkmen President To Pardon Two Activists

Activist Annakurban Amanklychev in August 2006 (Courtesy Photo) October 18, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has asked Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov to extend his traditional pardon to jailed rights activists Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiev.

A Turkmen court on August 25 sentenced each man to seven years in jail on charges rights groups have described as trumped-up.

A third defendant, RFE/RL reporter Ogulsapar Muradova, received a six-year sentence but died in custody within days under dubious circumstances.

In a statement dated October 17, RSF says it is concerned about the health of Amanklychev and Khajiev and calls on the Turkmen leader to show "clemency."

More than 10,000 inmates are expected to be set free this week under a presidential pardon that traditionally marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Amnestied prisoners include eight individuals convicted of involvement in an alleged plot to kill Niyazov four years ago.