Opposition newspaper attacked

New York, May 5, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns yesterday’s attack on the offices on Yeni Musavat, a popular opposition daily in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku.

On the evening of Sunday, May 4, a group of nearly 30 men attacked the newspaper’s offices, destroying furniture, windows, and telephone equipment.

The perpetrators also assaulted four Yeni Musavat journalists, including deputy editor-in-chief Gabil Abbasoglu. The journalists suffered only minor injuries and were able to work today.

According to Alesker Suleymanov, a journalist with Yeni Musavat, and Azerbaijani press reports, the attackers were incensed by a recent series of articles in Yeni Musavat about President Heydar Aliyev’s frail health. The reports were published after Aliyev collapsed twice on April 21 while making a speech on live national television.

After yesterday’s attack on the paper, the police were called to the scene, where they detained four of the attackers, at least one of whom they later released. No one has been charged.

“We call on President Aliyev and the Interior Ministry to do everything within their power to ensure that this attack is thoroughly investigated and that the individuals responsible for this crime are prosecuted,” said CPJ acting director Joel Simon.