Jailed Radio Reporter Dies in Turkmenistan

Friday, September 15, 2006

Jailed Radio Reporter Dies in Turkmenistan

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said Thursday that its correspondent in Turkmenistan had died in jail after she was imprisoned for illegally possessing weapons.

Ogulsapar Muradova had been sentenced to six years in jail in a trial Western rights groups said was part of President-for-Life Saparmurad Niyazov's clampdown on press freedom and dissent.

Relatives "told RFE/RL's Turkmen Service that security officials summoned them to the morgue today to identify Muradova's body," the U.S.-funded broadcaster said on its Web site. Turkmen officials declined to comment on the statement.

Most opposition activists and reporters have been driven into exile or jailed in Turkmenistan, a former Soviet country where Niyazov tolerates no dissent and enjoys a personality cult.

Muradova, 58, was jailed alongside Annakurban Amanklychev of a French production company and human rights advocate Sapardurdy Khajiev, according to Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.

the middle east

· CAIRO -- The head of the Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood called on Islamic countries to threaten to break off relations with the Vatican unless Pope Benedict XVI withdraws remarks he made about Islam on a visit to Germany, and a top religious figure in Turkey suggested the pontiff should reconsider a trip he is planning to Turkey later this year.

The Vatican issued a statement to say the pope had never meant to offend Islam.

In his speech Tuesday, Benedict quoted criticism of Islam and the prophet Muhammad by 14th-century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who wrote that everything Muhammad brought was evil and inhuman, "such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

Benedict repeatedly quoted Manuel's argument that spreading the faith through violence is unreasonable, adding, "Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul."

· GAZA CITY -- Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas accused the United States of undermining efforts to form a coalition government and called on Europe to take the lead in lifting international sanctions against the Palestinians.

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