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Freed Turkmen Journalist Says International Pressure Aided Release

An RFE/RL reporter in Turkmenistan who was amnestied last month from a five-year jail term says international support helped free him, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev told RFE/RL in an interview that the "international pressure, especially by U.S. [senators] and efforts by the U.S. State Department, played a big role in my release. I am very thankful to them."

He said he thinks another reason he was freed from prison is because "there were some high-level government and security officials [in Turkmenistan] who knew that I was being kept in prison on fake charges and they understood it would damage the image of the country" to keep him jailed.

Yazkuliyev was sentenced to five years in prison in early October after being found guilty of "encouraging a relative's suicide attempt." Family members said they had been forced by police to sign statements against him, and that their efforts to retract those statements were ignored in the trial that ensued.

He was officially released on October 26 under what officials said was a general presidential amnesty to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Turkmenistan's independence.

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Freed Turkmen Journalist Says International Pressure Aided Release

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