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Turkmen Rights Group's Website Hacked

The website of a Vienna-based Turkmen human rights group was hacked and inaccessible for several days, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Farid Tukhbatullin, the head of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR), told RFE/RL that the group's online resource "Chronicles of Turkmenistan" was first unavailable on October 1, when it was targeted in a massive hacker attack.

TIHR then moved the website from a Moscow host server to one in another, unnamed country, after which, the website has been accessible since October 12.

Tukhbatullin said his group's website was hacked immediately after Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov called on the National Security Ministry to step up its measures against "those who disseminate slanderous information about Turkmenistan's democratic, law-based secular state."

TIHR launched its website in September 2006.

Meanwhile, Tukhbatullin said reliable sources in Turkmenistan have warned him of a possible threat to his personal security.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch issued a joint statement on October 13 warning about a "potentially life-threatening plot" against Tukhbatullin. The statement quotes a source who requested anonymity as saying officials at the National Security Ministry has talked about "get[ting] rid of [Farid Tukhbatullin] quitely."

Tukhbatullin is a well-known Turkmen environmentalist and human rights activist. He left Turkmenistan in 2003 and received refugee status in Austria later that year.