Police in Turkmenistan Apprehend Former RFE/RL Correspondent

The police in Koneurgench, northern Turkmenistan, have apprehended Hudaiberdy Allashov, a former correspondent for RFE/RL, on undisclosed charges.

Family members informed RFE/RL that Allashov was taken into custody on December 1st following a summons from the police. They allege that during this encounter, he was subjected to physical abuse and electric shocks. His current location and the rationale behind his arrest remain unknown.

Allashov’s association with RFE/RL dates back to a brief three-month stint in 2016. However, his tenure ended abruptly when he and his mother were arrested on accusations of using chewing tobacco, an offense deemed unlawful in the tightly-governed former Soviet nation. Both Allashov and his mother, Kurbantach Arazmedova, refuted these charges at the time.

Their initial arrest drew international attention, leading to their release in mid-February 2017, albeit with a court conviction for possession of chewing tobacco, each receiving a three-year suspended prison sentence.

Following his release, Allashov chose to cease his work with RFE/RL, expressing concerns for his safety. Nevertheless, in October 2019, he was detained once again, enduring hours of questioning allegedly accompanied by physical assault. The situation took a toll on his mother, who fell ill and passed away in the hospital two days later.

In a separate incident in May 2022, Allashov and his wife, Ejesh Arazgylyjeva, were allegedly subjected to violent treatment by an official in Koneurgench, resulting in Arazgylyjeva’s hospitalization and necessitating medical attention for Allashov himself.

Turkmenistan’s government maintains a tight grip over media outlets, including newspapers, radio, television, and online platforms.