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Bulgaria Continues Extradition Of Turkmen Activist

(RFE/RL) February 22, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A Bulgarian judge has ruled that the extradition-review process should continue for a Turkmen dissident detained by Bulgarian authorities, but he allowed two days for appeals, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reported.

Annadurdy Khajiev, a senior member of the exiled opposition Watan party, was arrested in the Black Sea port city of Varna on February 19 following notification by Interpol.

Khajiev's wife, Tadjigul Begmedova, told RFE/RL the judge's decision came despite a Bulgarian court ruling in 2003 that said Annadurdy was being persecuted by Turkmen authorities.

"Despite the evidence presented by the lawyer and an earnest speech by Annadurdy Khajiev, who protested the arbitrariness of Bulgarian authorities that are unwilling to take into account the Varna court ruling of 2003 and are even concealing that information, the judge decided to continue the extradition procedure and allowed two days for that decision to be appealed," Begmedova said.

The Watan party has said in a statement that Khajiev's family was continually persecuted in Turkmenistan.

Khajiev's sister, RFE/RL reporter Ogulsapar Muradova, died under unclear circumstances in a Turkmen prison in September 2006 after a trial described by international human rights groups as unfair.