Thursday, May 24, 2007

More Repression in Azerbaijan

Imprisoned Azeri newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev has now been charged with terrorism. If convicted he could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison, in addition to his current 2 and 1/2 year sentence for "defamation". This comes in the wake of the eviction of Fatullayev's newspapers from their offices.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has condemned this latest attack on independent media. The response of the Azeri government, quoted in the same article, has to be read to be believed:

In Baku today, a senior aide to the Azerbaijani president today denied that the government is cracking down on media freedoms.

Ali Hasanov said the recent jailings of journalists and the closure of the newspapers' offices have been justified.

Hasanov called international criticism about attacks on the media "subjective." He said there is freedom of speech and an independent press in Azerbaijan, but he said freedom of speech does not mean journalists can break the law.


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