RFE/RL Correspondent Threatened With Death In Turkmenistan

A correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Turkmenistan was threatened with death by a man who identified himself as a police officer, RFE/RL reported on July 31.

While en route to report on Turkmenistan's Day of Bicycles on July 29, Soltan Achilova said the man warned her against taking photographs or she will be "finished."

The previous week, Achilova, 68, said a man tried to steal her cellphone as she was about to take a photo.

The two recent attacks follow several incidents of harassment against Achilova in November 2016, RFE/RL said.

"Journalism is not a crime, in Turkmenistan or elsewhere in the modern world. Soltan's life has now been explicitly threatened in an effort to stop her from doing her job in Turkmenistan, said RFE/RL President Thomas Kent.

The Turkmen government must immediately put an end to the persecution of Soltan Achilova and assure her safety.

Achilova is one of the main contributors to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service website of photos and videos from within Turkmenistan.

Attacks against RFE/RL contributors have intensified in recent years in the Central Asian nation, which is one of the world's most closed societies and is ranked "not free" in Freedom House's 2017 press freedom survey.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.