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HRW Condemns Treatment, Assault Of RFE/RL Correspondent In Turkmenistan

Soltan Achilova

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned the treatment of an RFE/RL correspondent in Turkmenistan who was recently questioned by police and then assaulted and robbed by unknown assailants.

The rights group said the assault on Soltan Achilova, 67, was the latest in a series of attacks on RFE/RL correspondents in the tightly controlled Central Asian country.

“Achilova’s ordeal was clearly yet another orchestrated attempt to silence a critic,” said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at HRW on November 7. “Journalists should be able to work without being assaulted or detained by police for doing their job.”

HRW said Achilova was assaulted and robbed by unknown assailants who took away her camera after police questioned her regarding taking photos at a supermarket in the capital, Ashgabat, on October 25.

In December 2014, Achilova was attacked by several people while she was reporting from a market. The assailants brought her to a police station, where her camera was confiscated and the photos deleted.

In 2015, a Turkmen court sentenced Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, a freelance correspondent for RFE/RL, to three years in prison on what rights watchdogs say were trumped-up drug charges.

That same year, Turkmen authorities forced three other correspondents to cease working for RFE/RL.

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