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Turkmen Court Sentences RFE/RL Reporter To Five Years In Jail


Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev
Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev
ASHGABAT -- A Turkmen court has sentenced an RFE/RL correspondent to five years in jail after convicting him of encouraging a relative's suicide attempt, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev went on trial on October 4 for allegedly urging a relative to attempt suicide, in a case his family says is retaliation for his journalistic activities.

The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it was "dismayed and shocked" by the sentence against Yazkuliyev.

RSF said in a statement that "the reign of the arbitrary continues unchecked in Turkmenistan."

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

RSF called the charges against him "absurd" and said Yazkuliyev was being punished for his outspoken investigative reporting and his online blogs.

RFE/RL President Steven Korn called the case against Yazkuliyev "an outrage," noting: "This was a bogus trial and a predatory sentence that shows that Turkmenistan authorities respect no law and no standards when it comes to their treatment of the media. RFE/RL protests the sentence vigorously and calls on others in the international community to condemn it as well."