Turkmen journalist Nurgeldi Halykov (file photo)
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says jailed Turkmen journalist Nurgeldy Halykov is facing retaliation in prison following coverage of his case and called for his immediate and unconditional release.
Halykov, a correspondent for the Netherlands-based Turkmen.news website, was arrested in July 2020 and sentenced to four years in prison in September that year on fraud charges, which his colleagues have described as trumped-up by the authorities as retaliation for his journalistic activities.
"Turkmen authorities should cease retaliating against imprisoned journalist Nurgeldi Halykov, and should release him immediately and unconditionally." the New-York based CPJ said in a May 12 statement .
Turkmen.news director Ruslan Myatiev told CPJ that, during his imprisonment, authorities have placed Halykov in punitive solitary confinement three times, each time after Turkmen.news reported about his case.
According to Myatiev, at the time of his arrest, authorities offered Halykov the choice of admitting to fraud charges or facing rape charges, which are subject to longer prison terms.
"Halykov is already serving a wholly unjustified sentence in retaliation for his work, and further punishing him when his employer raises his case is the height of injustice,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia Program coordinator.
“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."
In November, a group of U.S. lawmakers urged then-Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov to release Halykov and other political prisoners .
Myatiev expressed hope that there could be a change in the handling of Halykov’s case after Serdar Berdymukhamedov succeeded his father as the country’s president on March 19.
Officials at the Turkmen Ministry of National Security and the Interior Ministry, which oversees the prison system, were not available for immediate comment, CPJ says.