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President Nyazov asked to include two imprisoned journalists in independence anniversary pardon

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has appealed to President Separmurad Nyazov to include two journalists and human rights activists in the pardon he announced on 16 October 2006 for 10,000 prisoners. Held since June, Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiyev are now serving seven-year prison sentences.

The presidential pardon is to mark the 15th anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence. The beneficiaries, who are expected to be freed on 19 October, are to include eight of the 50 people who were convicted of treason after an attempt to assassinate Nyazov in 2002.

"We learned on 14 September that Ogulsapar Muradova, the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist who was arrested at the same time as Amanklychev and Khajiyev, died in prison under torture, but a gesture of clemency is still possible for the other two," RSF said (see IFEX alerts of 14 September, 15 August, 20 and 6 July, 22 and 20 June 2006).

"We have received no word of them for several weeks and we are very worried about their state of health," the organisation added.

Amanklychev, who was working as fixer for the French independent TV production company Galaxie-Presse, and Khajiyev, a member of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, were arrested together with Muradova between 16 and 18 June and were given prison sentences ranging from six to seven years in a summary trial held secretly on 25 August.

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