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World Association of Newspapers: Letter to S.Niazov.

World Association of Newspapers: Letter to S.Niazov.

His Excellency President Saparmourat Niazov Ashgabat, Turkmenistan c/o HE Ambassador to United States of America Email: turkmen@mindspring.com

19 September 2006

Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications in 102 countries, to express our outrage at the death in jail of journalist Ogulsapar Muradova.

According to reports, Ms Muradova, who worked for Radio Free Europe, died in jail in Ashgabat less than a month after she was sentenced to six years’ detention. On 14 September Ms Muradova’s family was called to the morgue by security services to collect her body, although the time and circumstances of her death remain unclear. Some reports suggest that Ms Muradova may have received a wound to the head and been beaten. Morgue officials, however, reportedly claim that the cause of death was natural but have refused to allow an independent doctor access to the body.

Ms Muradova was arrested in June with two human rights activists, Sapardurdy Khajyev and Annakurban Amanklytshev. They were convicted at a closed-door trial "for illegal possession of ammunition". In August, Ms Muradova’s co-accused were sentenced to seven years in jail.

We respectfully call on you to ensure that Ms Muradova’s death is fully and fairly investigated and that - should it be discovered that the cause of death was non-natural causes - those responsible are brought to justice. We call on you to take all necessary steps to ensure that your country ends its oppression of the press and observes international standards of free expression

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Gavin O’Reilly President World Association of Newspapers

George Brock President World Editors Forum

WAN is the global organization for the newspaper industry, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. The organization groups 18,000 newspapers in 102 countries, 11 news agencies and nine regional and world-wide press groups. WAN is non-governmental and non-profit.

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