The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, the body which governs official U.S. overseas broadcasting, has issued a resolution demanding an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the death in custody of Ogulsapar Muradova, a human rights activist with the Bulgaria-based Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation rights group who was also a reporter with U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Muradova and two colleagues, Amankurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiyev, were arrested in June in an operation described by the Turkmen government as a clampdown on an underground network seeking to destabilise the Central Asian state and were subsequently handed down sentences ranging from six to seven years (see Turkmenistan: 21 June 2006: ).
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) declared that it was "shocked" by reports of Muradova’s death, releasing a statement calling on the European Union (EU), the United States and Russia to demand a full explanation from the Turkmen authorities surrounding Muradova’s death. RFE/RL claimed that Turkmen authorities had declined the family’s request that a medical examination be done at the morgue but allowed Muradova’s children to take their mother’s body home after they appealed for help to the U.S. Embassy.Significance: The suspicious death of Muradova in custody will fuel the flames surrounding the alleged spy ring in Turkmenistan, which the authorities claim involved western diplomats who financed a human-rights training session in Ukraine; which the Turkmen government believes was established with the backing of western governments with the aim of overthrowing the regime.
Ben Wetherall Global Insight Daily Analysis September 15, 2006