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The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Turkmen authorities to release Nurgeldi Halykov

The Committee to Protect Journalists has published a statement calling on the Turkmen authorities to cease retaliating against imprisoned Turkmen journalist Nurgeldi Halykov and release him immediately and unconditionally.

Halykov, a correspondent for the Netherlands-based independent news website Turkmen.news, was arrested in July 2020 after the authorities found out that he had forwarded a photo of the WHO team members at a hotel pool in Ashgabat to the editorial office of Turkmen News. In September 2020 he was sentenced to a four-year imprisonment terms on the trumped-up fraud charges.

During his imprisonment, authorities have placed in a so-called punishment cell three times, with each instance corresponding to his employer’s coverage of his case, according to Turkmen.news editor-in-chief Ruslan Myatiev. Prisoners held in punishment cells are not allowed to leave the cell to circulate with other prisoners, are deprived of reading material or other entertainment.

“Turkmen authorities must cease placing Halykov in a punishment cell and must also overturn the trumped-up charges against him and release him without delay”, said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia Program coordinator. She added that Halykov was serving a wholly unjustified sentence in retaliation for his work, and further punishing him was the height of injustice.

Myatiev hopes that the outlet hoped there could be a change in Halykov’s case after Serdar Berdymukhamedov succeeded his father, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, as the country’s president. The calls by the Committee’s representatives to National Security Ministry and Turkmenistan’s Interior Ministry remained unanswered.

A year ago the organization also called on the Turkmen authorities to release the journalist from prison and allow him and all other journalists to work freely.