November 12th, 2007 16:45 EST
Azerbaijani Newspaper Editor Sentenced
Against the backdrop of numerous instances in recent months of beatings of journalists, law suits and imprisonment of media representatives on criminal defamation and other charges, we are deeply concerned by the November 11 conviction of Ganimat Zahid, chief editor of Azadliq, a pro-opposition newspaper that is routinely critical of the government and authorities of Azerbaijan. Most recently, on October 30, Eynulla Fatullayev, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Realny Azerbaijan, was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison on charges of terrorism. These events suggest an alarming trend of deliberate pressure against the independent and pro-opposition media.
A free press and active civil society are fundamental elements of any democracy and are essential to the protection of citizens’ basic rights. We strongly urge the Government of Azerbaijan to comply with its stated commitments to respect freedom of speech and rule of law and to support the development of an independent media in Azerbaijan.
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
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