RSF worries about a former journalist held incommunicado in Turkmenistan
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the immediate release of a US broadcaster’s former correspondent in northern Turkmenistan, who has been held incommunicado ever since his arrest on 1 December, a few days after being beaten and tortured by police.
Khudaiberdi Allashov, the former correspondent of Radio Azatlyk, the Turkmen service of US broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), was arrested at his home in the northern province of Dashoguz, on 1 December, for an unknown reason. His family has had no news of him since then. A few days before his arrest, he was summoned to a local police station where he was beaten and subjected to electric shocks, according to Radio Azatlyk.
“Khudaiberdi Allashov’s family does not know why he is being held and has had no contact with him since his arrest. We are worried about the situation of this former journalist in one of the most closed countries in the world. He is undoubtedly being persecuted and subjected to violence because of what he has written. RSF calls for his immediate release.
This is not the first time that Allashov has been targeted by the Turkmen authorities. He and his mother were arrested in December 2016 and were sentenced to three years in prison on spurious charges of possessing chewing tobacco. He was eventually released in February 2017 following pressure from foreign diplomats and international organisations.
Although he stopped working as a journalist, Allashov continued to receive regular, violent visits by the police in his home and was arrested again in October 2019 after Radio Azatlyk ran stories about shortages in Dashoguz.
Another former Radio Azatlyk correspondent, 74-year-old photo-journalist Soltan Ashilova, has also often been subjected to harassment and violence by the authorities. She was prevented from leaving Turkmenistan on 21 November when an official wiped her passport with a damp cloth and then declared it to be invalid.
A recipient of the Martin Ennals Award, which is given to human rights defenders, she had been due to travel to Switzerland to speak at a “Human Rights Week” in Geneva, an event with which RSF’s Swiss section was associated.
Turkmenistan is ranked 176th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2023 World Press Freedom Index. The authorities keep newspapers, radio, TV and Internet under strict control, allowing only news designed to praise the government. Independent and opposition media are based abroad.