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UN Condemns Imprisonment Of Turkmen Activists

Rights activist Annakurban Amanklychev, who was sentenced to 7 years in prison in 2006.
A UN-mandated body says Turkmenistan's continued jailing of human rights activists Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khadzhiev is a violation of international law, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

In a statement, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the Turkmen government to release the two men. The statement was made in response to a petition filed by the U.S.-based rights organization Freedom Now and law firm Hogan Lovells (formerly Hogan & Hartson).

Amanklychev and Khadzhiev, members of the Bulgarian-based Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, were arrested in June 2006 along with RFE/RL correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova.

The three had been providing information about the human rights situation in Turkmenistan to foreign media outlets. They were publicly accused of "gathering slanderous information to spread public discontent."

Amanklychev and Khadzhiev were sentenced to seven years' imprisonment and Muradova to six years; Muradova was found dead in her prison cell in September 2006.

Hogan Lovells' Craig Lewis told RFE/RL that the trial for the three violated international standards of due process of law.

"It is our position that there is no legal basis for continuing to hold them, and we would expect that consistent with the opinion of the working group, Turkmenistan would release them," Lewis said.

The case of Amanklychev and Khadzhiev has also been discussed at recent Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summits held in Warsaw and Vienna.