Turkmenistan : IFJ joins calls for the release of journalist Gaspar Matalaev

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today joined the call for the release of Gaspar Matalaev, a Turkmen journalist working for Alternative Turkmenistan News, who has spent nearly three years in detention over the publication of a report exposing child and forced labour in Turkmenistan.

Military parade in Achgabat, capital city of Turkmenistan. Igor Sasin/AFP

According to media reports, the journalist was arrested on 4th October 2016, two days after his article had appeared in Alternative Turkmenistan News about state-sponsored child and forced labour programme during cotton harvests in the country. 

He was charged with fraud and handed a three years jail term, but his trial was widely condemned as falling short of international standards amid  reports  that his confessions were made under torture in one of the world's most authoritarian regimes. 

Recent reports also indicate that the journalist is suffering from health problems due to poor living conditions in the labour camp where he is imprisoned.

The International Labor Rights Forum has drafted a petition calling on the immediate release of Gaspar Matalaev.

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Journalists documenting forced and child labour in Turkmenistan are doing an extremely important although dangerous job in raising awareness about a dramatic issue. They must be allowed to work freely. We urge the authorities to release Gaspar Matalaev immediately.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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