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RFE/RL Turkmen Correspondent Freed From Jail

RFE/RL Turkmen correspondent Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev
RFE/RL Turkmen correspondent Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev
ASHGABAT -- An RFE/RL correspondent jailed in Turkmenistan has been freed under a presidential amnesty, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev was sentenced to five years in prison earlier this month after being found guilty of encouraging a relative's suicide attempt.

Yazkuliyev's family and supporters said the case was retaliation for his outspoken investigative reporting, including coverage of deadly explosions at a weapons depot near Ashgabat in July, which were downplayed by official media.

The trial and sentence drew widespread condemnation from media-rights groups including Paris-based Reporters Without Borders and the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists, and prompted four senior U.S. senators to express their concern in a letter to the Turkmen ambassador in Washington.

An RFE/RL correspondent met Yazkuliyev after he was freed on October 26 and said he conveyed his gratitude to all those who had campaigned for his release.

In a statement, RFE/RL President Steve Korn welcomed Yazkuliyev's release.

"I'm delighted and relieved at Dovlet's release," Korn said. "I'm also keenly aware that he was the victim of policies in Turkmenistan that are aggressively hostile to media freedom, and that the international community must continue to condemn efforts to silence free speech."