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Sen. Sam Brownback, Chairman
Rep. Christopher H. Smith, Co-Chairman
For Immediate Release
September 15, 2006


Ogulsapar Muradova Died While in Custody of Turkmen Authorities

(Washington) – Helsinki Commission Chairman Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Co-Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ) expressed their sadness today at the death of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reporter Ogulsapar Muradova. Ms. Muradova died while in a Turkmen prison. 
“The death of Ms. Muradova is tragic,” said Senator Brownback, “and we mourn her passing.  Ms. Muradova was a brave journalist who dared to expose government abuses even while living in one of the most oppressive countries.  The charges for which she was recently sentenced to six years in prison were highly suspect, and we call on the Government of Turkmenistan to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation of her death.”
“I am extremely saddened by the death of Ogulsapar Muradova and extend my condolences to her family,” said Rep. Smith.  “Aware of the brutal nature of the regime, I raised with Turkmen officials my deep concern about her imprisonment and the risk of torture.  We denounce the continued detention of her colleagues, Amankurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiev, and urge the Turkmen authorities to release them immediately.” 
Between June 16-18, 2006, Muradova, along with Amanklychev and Khajiev, were detained by Turkmen security forces.  Turkmen authorities reportedly arrested them because of their connection to a documentary about President Saparmurat Niyazov’s cult of personality and their use of hidden video equipment in making this film.  On August 25, Muradova was sentenced to six years in prison for “illegal possession of weapons” in a closed trial that fell far short of international standards.  On that same day, Amanklychev and Khajiev were sentenced to seven years of imprisonment on identical charges. 
Ogulsapar Muradova was affiliated with the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, a non-governmental organization that monitors human rights in Turkmenistan. In addition, Ms. Muradova has served as a journalist for Radio Liberty, a private communications service funded by the Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the 1975 Helsinki Accords.

Media Contact: Shelly Han or Mark Kearney
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