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Turkmenistan Pardons 612 Prisoners, Including 26 Foreigners

Turkmenistan’s state media say President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has pardoned 612 prisoners, including 26 foreign citizens, ahead of festivities marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

State media reported on July 2 that Berdymukhammedov had signed the order of amnesty "to further strengthen the unity and solidarity of Turkmen society."

State media did not reveal the nationalities of foreign prisoners released under the amnesty.

Berdymukhammedov has issued such decrees several times a year, usually on the eve of state holidays.

The former Soviet republic is one of the most closed and repressive countries in the world.

On June 30, a number of prominent rights groups signed a letter addressed to Berdymukhammedov asking him to release Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, a correspondent of RFE/RL's Turkmen Service.

The letter said Nepeskuliev was convicted on the "fabricated" charges of possessing illicit narcotics on August 31 and has not been in contact with relatives since September.

In 2015, the government passed a law excluding prisoners convicted of drug trafficking from state amnesties.

With reporting by AFP

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