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Turkmen Dissident Jailed After Returning Home

On October 7, Turkmen dissident Gulgeldy Annaniyazov was sentenced following a trial in Ashgabat to 11 years in prison.

Annaniyazov was first jailed in Turkmenistan in 1995 after organizing a pro-democracy demonstration. He was released in 1999 under international pressure, and fled over the border into Kazakhstan.

In 2002, he attempted to fly to Moscow, but was deported back to Kazakhstan. Ashgabat sought to have him returned to Turkmenistan, but after he was declared a prisoner of conscience by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Kazakh authorities denied the request. Annaniyazov was then granted refugee status in Norway.

But in June of this year, without receiving official approval, Annaniyazov entered Turkmenistan illegally and was subsequently detained by the Turkmen special services.

Earlier this week, reports also emerged that Annaniyazov's daughter and her family were prevented by the secret services from leaving the country for Norway, after being granted permission by the Norwegian authorities.