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RFE/RL Turkmen Reporter To Be Tried


RFE/RL Turkmenistan correspondent Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev
RFE/RL Turkmenistan correspondent Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev
ASHGABAT -- An RFE/RL correspondent in Turkmenistan is to go on trial for allegedly urging a relative to attempt suicide, in a case his family says is retaliation for his journalistic activities, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev faces up to five years in jail if convicted in a trial due to start on October 4.

Yazkuliyev was detained in his native Akhal province on September 27 and sent to Yashlyk detention center near the capital, Ashgabat.

Yazkuliyev was charged with driving one of his family members to attempt suicide. However, his relatives say the authorities have interfered in their family's private life to intimidate Yazkuliyev for his journalistic activities.

Yazkuliyev's family members told RFE/RL that they have "sufficient documents proving that his case is politically motivated."

Yazkuliyev was one of the first journalists in Turkmenistan to cover deadly explosions at a weapons depot in the town of Abadan, near Ashgabat, in July, which official media initially downplayed as a minor incident.

Yazkuliyev was later summoned to a police station and warned about possible consequences for his coverage of the blasts.

RFE/RL President Steve Korn called the case outrageous, saying, "Authorities made no secret of their displeasure with Yazkuliyev after his independent and unscripted reports on Abadan this summer, and these charges seem deceitful and intended to silence him for good."

Yazkuliyev, 43, has been working as an RFE/RL correspondent in Turkmenistan since 2007.