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EU Raises Case Of Detained RFE/RL Correspondent

Rovshen Yazmuhamedov
Rovshen Yazmuhamedov
ASHGABAT -- A European Union delegation has raised with Turkmen officials the case of a detained RFE/RL correspondent.

Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said on May 17 that the delegation expressed concern over the detention of Turkmen Service correspondent Rovshen Yazmuhamedov at a meeting on human rights with Turkmen officials in Turkmenistan on May 15.

"We have very specifically expressed concern about the arrest, have asked for details about the reasons for his arrest and whether his family, for example, and lawyers were authorized to visit him, and we will continue to monitor this closely," Kocijancic said.

Yazmuhamedov, 30, was detained on May 6 by police in the northeastern city of Turkmenabat.

Kocijancic said the EU urged Turkmen officials to make a prompt decision on the case.

"As far as I understand, the law-enforcement institutions should make a decision on this case within 10 days, which would mean very shortly," Kocijancic said.

Despite multiple requests to Turkmen authorities, RFE/RL has been unable to obtain any information about Yazmuhamedov's condition.

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

Relatives also told RFE/RL that Yazmuhamedov was interrogated by security services several times recently.

Since 2009, RFE/RL has documented three other incidents involving the confinement and imprisonment of persons associated with its Turkmen Service, or Azatlyk Radiosy as it is known locally.

In October 2011, correspondent Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev was sentenced to five years in prison on phony charges, several months after security agents interrogated him about his reporting on explosions in the city of Abadan and threatened him with prosecution for "causing national, social, and religious provocations."

Yazkuliyev was later released from prison under a presidential amnesty following an appeal by four U.S. senators, including current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.