Turkmenistan - Reporters Without Borders occupy Turkmen embassy during EU / Central Asia summit in Paris

    MONTREAL, Sept. 18 /CNW Telbec/ - As a European Union / Central Asia
security summit was taking today place in Paris, Reporters Without Borders
activists peacefully occupied Turkmenistan's embassy in Paris for two hours to
demand the release of Turkmen journalist Annakurban Amanklychev and human
rights activist Sapardurdy Khajiyev, who were arrested in 2006.
    They also called on the Turkmen authorities to explain how Radio Free
Europe / Radio Liberty correspondent Ogulsapar Muradova died in prison in 2006
after being arrested at the same time as Amanklychev and Khajiyev.
    French police removed the Reporters Without Borders activists from the
embassy at the request of the embassy's staff.
    "We demand the immediate release of Amanklychev and Khadjiyev, who have
been in prison for the past two years for helping a French TV journalist to
make a documentary," Reporters Without Borders said. "The Turkmen authorities
must stop hounding journalists and all those who criticise the government's
ultra-authoritarian policies."
    Reporters Without Borders also called on the Turkmen official in charge
of the country's embassy in Paris to transmit its demands to the government in
Ashgabad. Turkmenistan's foreign minister was one of the Central Asian
representatives attending the summit.
    French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, who was hosting the meeting
with his Central Asian counterparts, issued a statement saying he had
reiterated France's request for the release of Amanklychev and Khajiyev.
    Muradova, 58, died from blows she received in the prison where she was
serving a six-year sentence for helping the French journalist with the
documentary. There has never been a proper investigation into her death
despite the international community's many appeals. Like her, Amanklychev and
Khajiyev were sentenced to six or seven years in prison at the end of a trial
held behind closed doors without any defence lawyers. There has been no news
of either of them since the trial.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, Executive Director,
Reporters Without Borders Canada, (514) 521-4111, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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