A Turkmen correspondent for RFE/RL has left Turkmenistan after serving a three-year prison term on drug charges that human rights groups and a UN panel denounced as politically motivated.
Turkmen journalist and RFE/RL contributor Saparmamed Nepeskuliev reportedly flew from Turkmenbashi to Istanbul on March 23 after obtaining an exit visa from Turkmenistan’s government two days earlier.
Nepeskuliev was released from prison on May 19, 2018, after serving his full sentence on charges of possessing a medical drug, tramadol, that is banned in Turkmenistan.
Rights groups have accused authorities in Turkmenistan of planting the drugs in a hotel room where he was staying while he was away working on a story.
They say the charges against him were fabricated in retaliation for his reporting.
Nepeskuliev disappeared on July 7, 2015, and was held incommunicado for weeks before a court in Turkmenistan found him guilty on the narcotics charges.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention designated Nepeskuliev’s detention as "arbitrary" in December 2015, saying that the journalist had been "deprived of liberty for having peacefully exercised his right to freedom of expression."
In July 2016, seven U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov calling Nepeskuliev’s imprisonment "unlawful" and urging his immediate release.
In video reports for RFE/RL, Nepeskuliev documented decaying infrastructure and economic inequality in western Turkmenistan.
Other RFE/RL reporters and contributors in Turkmenistan have faced physical attacks, threats, and prosecution on charges that critics say are groundless.
Jailed, Harassed RFE/RL Correspondent Leaves Turkmenistan
Returning Pakistani Taliban Employs Extortion As Control Grows2
'Better To Die': Afghan Woman Accuses Taliban Official Of Rape, Forced Marriage3
Amnesty Confirms Fresh Videos Show Taliban Executing Resistance Fighters4
'No One To Protect Us': Afghan Journalists Who Fled To Pakistan Say Western Nations Have Abandoned Them5
Fleeing Afghans Who Reach Turkey Get No Respite From Violence, Persecution6
Under The Taliban, Public Employees Must Pass Test Of Faith7
Women's Rights: A Year After The Taliban Takeover8
Taliban Harassment Of Couples A Blow To Afghan Restaurants9
Angelina Jolie Visits Flood-Hit Pakistan10
UN Envoy Angelina Jolie Visits Pakistan's Flood-Ravaged Areas