Muradova, a reporter for the Turkmen service of Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty (RFE/RL), died in prison sometime in September. Her body was
released to her family on September 14, 2006. One Turkmen human rights
group that had spoken with relatives said Muradova had suffered head
and neck injuries.
Authorities in the capital,
Ashgabat, handed over the body only after Western diplomats accompanied
Muradova's children to the morgue, RFE/RL Turkmen Service Director
Aleksandr Narodetsky told CPJ. Authorities refused the family's request
for an autopsy and did not disclose the cause or date of death.
Security forces later surrounded the Muradova home and prevented people
from seeing the body or contacting Muradova's relatives.
Muradova, 58, had been convicted of possessing ammunition and sentenced
to six years in jail after a closed-door trial that lasted only
minutes. She had been denied legal counsel.
The Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation, a human rights organization
operating from Bulgaria, released a statement saying that Muradova's
body showed a large head wound and bruises around the neck. The
foundation, which also said Muradova had been drugged and tortured in
jail, had spoken with her adult children before the telephone
connection was abruptly cut. RFE/RL's Narodetsky also said that the
children reported that their mother had a head wound.
U.S. government funded RFE/RL is the last foreign broadcaster to
maintain a network of correspondents in the secretive Central Asian