Text: U.S. Deplores Conviction of Turkmen Activist Farid Tukhbatullin
(Boucher says charges were politically motivated) (340)
The United States has called for the immediate release of Turkmen environmental activist Farid Tukhbatullin, who was convicted of illegally crossing the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border and of "concealing a crime."
State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said the charges were politically motivated.
"This conviction is the latest affront to the human rights situation in Turkmenistan, which has deteriorated sharply in the months following the November 25, 2002 attack on President Saparmurat Niyazov's motorcade," Boucher said.
Following is his statement:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
March 5, 2003
Statement by Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Conviction of Turkmen activist Farid Tukhbatullin
The United States deplores the conviction of Turkmen environmental activist Farid Tukhbatullin on March 4, and calls for his immediate release.
The United States believes the charges against Tukhbatullin and his conviction to be politically motivated. A local Turkmen court found Tukhbatullin guilty of illegally crossing the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border and of "concealing a crime." According to prosecutors, his "crime" was participation in a November 2002 human rights meeting in Moscow. No foreign or diplomatic observers were allowed to attend the trial. According to local observers, the court refused to allow the introduction of evidence that supported his innocence.
Tukhbatullin was convicted despite an appeal made to Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman-in-Office Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.
This conviction is the latest affront to the human rights situation in Turkmenistan, which has deteriorated sharply in the months following the November 25, 2002 attack on President Niyazov's motorcade. We reiterate our concern about the treatment of those accused of being directly connected with the attack as well as their family members. The continued abuses now seem also to be targeting on political grounds persons without any connection to the attack. We look forward to the OSCE's presentation this month of a comprehensive report on developments in Turkmenistan.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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