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U.S. Agency Demands Probe into Death of Journalist in Turkmen Custody.

U.S. Agency Demands Probe into Death of Journalist in Turkmen Custody.

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

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