Turkmenistan frees pastor, other religious prisoners

Pastor Ilmurad Nuriev of Turkmenistan was freed along with 229 other religious prisoners who were arrested and imprisoned in a labor camp. Nuriev, pastor of Light to the World Protestant Church in the Mary region of Turkmenistan, was arrested in August 2010 and found guilty in October 2010 of trumped up charges of swindling, then sentenced to four years in a prison labor camp.

His release with the other religious prisoners was the result of an amnesty decree issued by Turkmenistan’s president in honor of their Flag Day on February 18. A police train dropped him off in Mary that afternoon where his wife and other family members met him, all of whom were surprised at his sudden release. From 2007 up to his arrest in 2010, the pastor had suffered various forms of harassment by the authorities, including a raid on his house in February 2009 when they confiscated hundreds of Christian cassettes and DVDs.

The pastor said he was able to receive his diabetes medications in prison and was never beaten. But he complained that he was never allowed to have a copy of the Bible when Muslim prisoners were able to have their own copy of the Koran.


Felix Corley. Turkmenistan: Pastor freed, other religious prisoners of conscience remain jailed. Forum 18 News. 20 February 2012.

–Harry A. Gaylord–

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