On September 14, 2006, family members of Ogulsapar Muradova, a human rights activist and correspondent for RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, were brought by security officials to the morgue to see her body
. She was 58 years old.
Muradova had been detained in mid-June along with several rights activists, with no reason given for the arrests at the time.
National Security Minister Geldymukhammed Ashirmukhammedov later accused one of the detainees, Annakurban Amanklychev, of being involved in an alleged conspiracy to overthrow President Saparmurat Niyazov's government.
Muradova, Amanklychev, and a third defendant, Sapardurdy Khajiev, were sentenced in late August to up to seven years in prison on charges of illegal possession of ammunition.
When Muradova's relatives were brought to the morgue and shown her body, they saw what appeared to be a head wound, according to one of her children. One relative told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service that security officials at the morgue assured the family that Muradova died of natural causes and denied any wrongdoing.
International media rights groups, such as Reporters Without Borders
, U.S. government officials
, and the United Nations
all condemned Muradova's death and demanded a full, transparent investigation. Despite some evidence that Turkmenistan under current President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has become less isolated and repressive
, no one has ever been charged in connection with Ogulsapar Muradova's death in custody.