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Turkmenistan - RFE/RL Correspondent Threatened

RFE/RL correspondent Osman Hallyev
RFE/RL correspondent Osman Hallyev
Osman Hallyev, a longtime correspondent for RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, says he has been placed under what amounts to house arrest in eastern Lebap Province due to his affiliation with RFE/RL.

Hallyev told RFE/RL's Ashgabat correspondent that his son, daughter-in-law, and son-in-law have all lost their jobs, which he also attributes to his work with RFE/RL.

In addition, Hallyev's international phone lines have been severed since mid-November and his access to the Internet has also been restricted.

Local officials have promised to deal with the matter as soon as possible, but Hallyev says the local Prosecutor's Office does not respond to his complaints regarding the situation. He says he fears his detention by state security forces is imminent.

In a January 12th letter, the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) expressed its concern over the harassment of Hallyev and his RFE/RL colleague, Dovletmurat Yazguliev, in Turkmenistan. Yazguliev was recently interrogated by local authorites who requested that he stop working for RFE/RL.

“Similar situations in the past have ended tragically, so we urge President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov to intervene at once,” the RSF statement 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.