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'We Were Only On Gruel': Interview Sheds Light On Conditions Endured By Missing RFE/RL Turkmen Journalist


A YouTube screen grab of RFE/RL Turkmen Freelance Correspondent Saparmamed Nepeskuliev.

Alternative Turkmenistan News (ATN) has interviewed a man who claimed he shared a jail cell with Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, a contributor to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service and other independent outlets, who has been held at an undisclosed location for almost a year on charges that are widely believed to have been fabricated.

Nepeskuliev, 35, went missing in July while visiting the Caspian coastal resort area of Avaza.

His relatives later tracked him down at a detention center in a settlement near Avaza.

Saparmamed Nepeskuliev

Authorities at the facility said he was being held for possessing "narcotic" pills.

Nepeskuliev's relatives told RFE/RL in September 2015 that they had learned that he had been sentenced to three years in prison on August 31.

The man in the video -- whose name is not given -- said that he and Nepeskuliev were treated harshly because of his work as a journalist for RFE/RL and that Nepeskuliev failed a drugs test because he had been set up by authorities after innocently taking medicine for a stomachache.

The circumstances behind the interview by ATN are not clear.

Reporters Without Borders has long called on Turkmen authorities to provide full details about Nepeskuliev's current status "and to free him without delay."

Turkmenistan consistently ranks at the bottom of world rankings for press freedom.

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