Novruzali Mamedov

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Mamedov, 68, editor of a now-defunct minority
newspaper Talyshi Sado, died
in Baku prison
hospital while serving a 10-year jail term on fabricated charges of
treason and incitement to ethnic hatred. The next day, a Penitentiary Service
spokesman told the Azeri Press Agency (APA) that the journalist
appeared to have suffered a stroke. Penitentiary Service representatives claimed
that Mamedov had refused a transfer to a civilian hospital for treatment.

The official statements were directly at odds with accounts
from the journalist’s lawyer and supporters.

Ramiz Mamedov (no relationship to the journalist), the
editor’s lawyer, said the journalist told him two days before his death that
medical treatment had been inadequate and his health was deteriorating. The
lawyer also told CPJ that prison authorities refused to release the journalist
on humanitarian grounds despite calls from the Council of Europe’s representative to Azerbaijan and the country’s
ombudsman. Mamedov suffered from hypertension, bronchitis, neuritis, and a
prostate tumor, the lawyer said.

Emin Huseynov, director of the Baku-based Institute for
Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, told CPJ that prison authorities did not comply
with a local court’s order to provide Mamedov with medical treatment beginning
in March. He said authorities refused to allow independent medical treatment
offered by a European Union
delegation that visited the journalist in prison in June.

Azerbaijani authorities took Mamedov into state custody in
February 2007, initially on a trumped-up charge of resisting arrest, which was
then changed to charges of state treason and incitement of ethnic hatred. A
three-month-long, closed-door trial culminated in a 10-year jail sentence.
Authorities never disclosed their evidence against the journalist. News reports
said the case was based on an allegation that he had received money from Iran to publish Talyshi Sado, a tiny, twice-weekly publication that served Azerbaijan’s
ethnic Talysh minority. The Talysh community spans northern Iran and southern Azerbaijan. The paper folded after Mamedov’s