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US-Backed Broadcaster: Journalist Tortured in Turkmenistan

U.S.-backed broadcaster Radio-Free Europe/Radio Liberty says Turkmen security forces have tortured one of its journalists.

In a statement, the radio service said Sazak Durdymuradov was beaten so badly he told his wife he wanted to die. He was found at a state security detention center on Tuesday.

Radio-Free Europe/Radio Liberty President Jeffrey Gedmin said the incident was made even more hideous by the fact that the Turkmen government was engaged in a European Union dialogue about human rights at the time.

London-based rights group Amnesty International said earlier this week that widespread and systemic human rights violations continue in Turkmenistan, with police and security forces acting with impunity.

Separately, New York-based Human Rights Watch Wednesday demanded the release of a dissident it says was detained Tuesday. The group says Turkmen authorities arrested Gulgeldy Annaniazov at his home in the capital, Ashgabat.

Also today, Turkmen government officials demolished a jail in the Caspian Sea port of Turkmenbashi, citing a decline in the crime rate under President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov's rule.

International groups have named the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan as one of the worst violators of media and religious freedom.