In Azerbaijan, editor sentenced to prison in defamation case
August 10, 2006 12:00 PM ET
New York, August 10, 2006-A judge in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, today convicted the editor of an Azeri-language independent newspaper on a charge of criminally defaming a leader of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party, according to international news reports. Shakhin Agabeili, editor-in-chief of Milli Yol, was sentenced to a year in prison in connection with the 2005 article, but a Milli Yol journalist said Agabeili did not write the article and was not editor at the time of its publication.
“We're alarmed that a court has imprisoned a journalist for a published report, and we're particularly concerned by the politicized nature of this case,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The trial and conviction came just a day after plainclothes police picked up Agabeili at a subway station. Arif Ragimzade, vice speaker of Parliament and a one-time political rival of Agabeili, had filed a criminal complaint in July. He blamed Agabeili for a Milli Yol article in late 2005 that accused the politician of taking bribes.
“It's surprising that the article in question was published nine months ago and the lawsuit was filed just 20 days ago,” Pervin Kazimoglu, deputy editor of Milli Yol, told reporters. He noted that Agabeili was not the author or the editor at the time, according to international press reports.
But Agabeili was running in Azerbaijani parliamentary elections late last year, on an opposition party slate. President Ilham Aliyev's Yeni Azerbaijan Party won a large majority in the November election, which many viewed as flawed.
Agabeili faces another criminal defamation case from Interior Minister Ramil Usubov. He alleges that Agabeili wrote an article linking him to Haji Mammadov, a former Interior Ministry officer facing trial on murder and kidnapping charges. (See CPJ's alert http://www.cpj.org/news/2006/europe/azer27july06na.html ) “Those who try to offend the police ... who write defamatory articles should be prosecuted,” Usubov told journalists, according to Agence France-Presse.
Azerbaijan's press freedom landscape has been saturated by politicized lawsuits against opposition and independent media. Journalists routinely face defamation charges and criminal investigations in response to their critical reporting, CPJ research shows.
New York, July 10, 2018--Azerbaijani authorities should immediately release independent journalist Afgan Sadygov, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Police first detained Sadygov, the founder and chief editor of now-defunct independent news website Azel, on July 6, according to his wife Sevinch Sadygova, who spoke to CPJ today....
Journalists on trial in France after calling Azerbaijan a dictatorship
September 7, 2017 3:58 PM ET
New York, September 7, 2017--The French justice ministry should dismiss criminal defamation charges the government of Azerbaijan brought against journalists Elise Lucet and Laurent Richard, and allow the pair to continue their work without obstruction, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today....
New York, August 17, 2017--Azerbaijani authorities should stop harassing Turan, the country's only independent news agency, and should allow it to work without fear of reprisal, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today....
New York, July 24, 2017--An Azerbaijani court's sentencing of Faiq Amirov, financial director of the independent newspaper Azadliq, is a further serious blow to press freedom in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today....
Azerbaijan sentences journalist to seven years in prison
June 20, 2017 5:09 PM ET
New York, June 20, 2017--Azerbaijani authorities should immediately release Fikret Faramazoglu, chief editor of the news website Journalistic Research Center, from prison and investigate the journalist's claims that he was severely beaten in custody, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Faramazoglu was sentenced on June 14 to seven...