New York, June 26, 2008—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the abduction, torture, and forcible psychiatric hospitalization of Sazak Durdymuradov, a contributing reporter for the Turkmen Service of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), in the Western city of Bakhaden.
According to RFE/RL, Durdymuradov was seized by agents of the secret police (MNB) from his Bakhaden home on June 20 and forcibly taken to a local psychiatric clinic, then shuttled to an MNB station where he was severely beaten, tortured with electroshock, and pressured to sign a letter that said he agreed to stop reporting for RFE/RL. Colleagues say they believe that Durdymuradov was then transferred to a psychiatric hospital in the eastern Lebap region, notorious for “admitting” critics of the Turkmen regime, RFE/RL Turkmen Service Director Oguljamal Yazliyeva told CPJ. However, Durdymuradov’s whereabouts have yet to be confirmed. When RFE/RL contacted MNB authorities to find out where Durdymuradov was, they told the outlet that they were unfamiliar with the case.
Dear Secretary Rice: In advance of your meeting in New York with Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov during the 62nd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Committee to Protect Journalists draws your attention to the unexplained death of an independent journalist in Turkmenistan.
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