Turkmen dissident safely returns to Sweden after 2 months of detention in Belarus
The Prosecutor General's Office of Belarus on September 13 released former RFE/RL journalist Chary Annamuradov, whose extradition had been sought by Turkmenistan. Today, the dissident has returned to Sweden, where he has lived since 2002. The official reasons for this decision are not yet known.
The information has been confirmed by the dissident’s friend Murat Khanalyev, a resident of Belarus who invited Annamuradov to Minsk. As soon as Annamuradov arrived in Belarus, he was detained by the border guards.
Chary Annamuradov was held in a detention center in Minsk for almost two months. His release was sought by activists of Viasna and their partners from Human Rights Watch and Civil Rights Defenders. The human rights defenders feared that the Belarusian authorities would extradite Annamuradov to Turkmenistan, where he could be tortured in prison. Among other factors, the case was solved with the help of Swedish diplomats, because Annamuradov is a Swedish national, where he fled from his home country after years of persecution.
Murat Khanalyev says that he was unable to see Annamuradov before his departure from Belarus and he does not know what the actual reason for his release was.
“I do not know what has caused his release, but I have a guess as to the three positions, which could have contributed to this. First, Turkmenistan could have sent documents that were not convincing for the Belarusian side. Second, it’s the intervention of human rights organizations and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Third, they managed to prove that he was a political migrant. Perhaps, he was released as a result of all these things,” Khanalyev said.
In the 1990s, Chary Annamuradov worked as a freelance journalist in Turkmenistan, including as a correspondent for Radio Liberty and Nezavisimaya Gazeta. He was persecuted for his professional activities. After serving two years in prison on trumped-up charges, he was forced to leave the country.