Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Intimidation Continues in Azerbaijan

The status of free expression in Azerbaijan is bad enough without the interference of fatwa-issuing Iranian clerics. This report from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty provides the latest example:

An Azerbaijani opposition journalist has been hospitalized after being attacked in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.

Ali Rza, deputy editor of the "Azadliq" (Freedom) opposition newspaper, says Nicat Huseynov was assaulted on December 25 by four men who beat him and tried to stab him.

He said Huseynov is being treated for internal injuries. Two reporters for the same newspaper were attacked earlier this year. One of them was killed.

The Committee to Protect Journalists offers some additional details on the attack, and puts it into the context of a broader government campaign against the newspaper:

Azadlyg and its journalists have been targets of violence and repression during the past year. Azadlyg reporter Fikret Huseinli was abducted and beaten last March after writing articles that accused senior government officials of taking bribes. In June, police arrested Azadlyg satirist Sakit Zakhidov on drug charges that local press freedom activists and independent journalists say were fabricated. And, in October, a state property regulator was granted court permission to evict Azadlyg from its offices.


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