Saparmurat Ovezberdiev, 2004 winner
Saparmurat Ovezberdiev worked at RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service from 1992, first as a freelancer reporting from Ashgabat. He was also a translator of foreign literature, mostly from Baltic writers, and was a member of the Writers Union of the former USSR.
In 2003, Turkmen National Security Ministry (MNB) officials in Ashgabat threatened to kill him if he continued his work with RFERL. Under constant persecution, he bravely carried on working.
He was abducted twice, in September and November 2003, in Ashgabat. In the September incident, Ovezberdiev was held for three days in a NSM prison, where he was tortured and injected with drugs. In November, Ovezberdiev was abducted from his home by two assailants and taken to a cemetery, where he was severely beaten, tortured and threatened with death if he continued his work with RFE/RL. Although Ovezberdiev was later able to identify one of his assailants an NSM officer, no charges have been filed in the case.