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RFE/RL Correspondent Detained In Turkmenistan


TURKMENABAT, Turkmenistan -- An RFE/RL correspondent based in Turkmenistan's northeastern city of Turkmenabat has been detained by local police.

Rovshen Yazmuhamedov, 30, has worked for RFE/RL since September.

His reports have focused mainly on social issues.

On May 9, Yazmuhamedov's relatives informed RFE/RL's Turkmen Service that he had been detained three days earlier.
Rovshen Yazmuhamedov
Rovshen Yazmuhamedov

"[Rovshen] left from home at around 2:30 p.m. on May 6, saying he would come back soon. Then he did not return," his mother, Parcha Yazmuhamedova, explained. "I waited for him until 2:30 a.m. He did not come back in the morning either, then I received a call from them. A prosecutor was calling and asking for his passport. He said 'Rovshen is with us.' They told me to bring a copy of his passport. [Once there] I was waiting outside for awhile, then they called me in. Rovshen was there, they showed him to me."

Authorities have not given any explanation for Yazmuhamedov's detention.

According to the relatives, the journalist is being held at a detention center run by the Interior Ministry's Directorate No. 6, which is mainly involved in investigating organized crime and terrorism-related cases.

The relatives tell RFE/RL Yazmuhamedov has been interrogated by security services several times in the past.

In the meantime, Yazmuhamedov’s mother said authorities were installing monitoring devices around the family’s home.

"They have been installing [cameras around our house] since morning. I don't understand why they are doing this," Yazmuhamedova said.

RFE/RL correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova was detained in June 2006 and convicted of weapons possession charges two months later at a closed trial that lasted some two hours.

Muradova was sentenced to six years in prison, but in September 2006 her family was informed she had died in custody.

A government autopsy, whose results were never released to the family or made public, reportedly found that Muradova died from blows to the back of her head.

Turkmenistan is one of the most isolated countries in the world. The government greatly restricts foreigners’ access to the country and the ability of its citizens to travel outside the country.

All media in the country is state-controlled and it remains difficult to obtain information from outside media sources.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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