ASHGABAT -- An RFE/RL correspondent in Turkmenistan has gone on trial over allegations that he urged a relative to attempt suicide, in a case his family says is retaliation for his journalistic activities.
Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev faces up to five years in jail if convicted.
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.
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."
Official reports were soon overshadowed by citizens' posting of images and videos from near the scene of the massive blast, eventually forcing authorities to acknowledge the incident, although reports continued to suggest they were underreporting casualties.