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Turkmenistan frees rights activist

Turkmenistan frees rights activist

An international human rights advocacy group says Turkmenistan has released a human rights defender from jail amid a widespread amnesty.
Human Rights Watch said late Tuesday that Valery Pal had been sentenced in 2004 to more than 12 years in jail on politically motivated charges.
Pal was accused of stealing from a oil refinery where he worked and embezzlement.
Turkmenistan has made tentative steps to improve democratic standards since the death in late 2006 of dictator Saparmurat Niyazov.
But rights groups say the energy-rich Central Asian nation remains deeply authoritarian and repressive.
President Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov approved the amnesty for about 400 prisoners to mark a national holiday last week.