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RFE/RL Turkmen Service correspondent Osman Hallyev
The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has expressed concern over the harassment of two RFE/RL correspondents in Turkmenistan.

Dovletmurat Yazguliev and Osman Hallyev have been subjected to threats and intimidation by local intelligence officers in the last two weeks.

“Similar situations in the past have ended tragically, so we urge President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov to intervene at once,” Reporters Without Borders said. “If this has been done at the initiative of local officials, they must be brought to order. If not, we reiterate our appeal to the president to order the Turkmen security apparatus to stop treating journalists as enemies and criminals.”

As RSF notes, another RFE/RL correspondent in Turkmenistan, Sazak Durdymuradov, was arrested by intelligence officers in June and was tortured while held for two weeks.

Turkmenistan ranks 171st out of 173 countries in the 2008 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
The International News Safety Institute (INSI) says the new year has gotten off to one of the bloodiest beginnings ever for the world's news media.

The Brussels-based watchdog says warfare and other unrest has already claimed the lives of five journalists in 2009, the worst start to a new year since INSI began keeping records in 2003. More than 100 news media staff died in 2008.

The 2009 deaths came in Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Gaza.

INSI Director Rodney Pinder says there is significant evidence of journalists being targeted to silence their work.

"This is a dismaying start to the new year," Pinder said in a statement. "Free societies cannot exist without press freedom, and there is no press freedom where journalists are being killed because of their work."

INSI urgeds all warring parties to respect in letter and spirit UN Security Council Resolution 1738 of 2006 which demands an end to attacks on journalists in armed conflict.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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