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New York, March 18, 2013–An appellate court in Azerbaijan should overturn the baseless convictions of two journalists charged with inciting mass disorder, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Your Excellency: The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to bring to your attention the deteriorating climate of press freedom in Azerbaijan, which undermines your government’s commitments to press freedom and human rights, mars the country’s international image, and obstructs the transparency of the upcoming October presidential vote in which you reportedly plan to seek re-election. We call on you to start reversing this trend and allow the press to report freely without fear of imprisonment, attacks, or politicized lawsuits.
Dear President Aliyev: The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply disturbed by the recent wave of journalist imprisonments in Azerbaijan. With at least six journalists currently behind bars, Azerbaijan is now among the top 10 global jailers of the press, ahead of Uzbekistan and just behind Ethiopia, according to CPJ research. This crackdown comes in the run-up to Eurovision, the international song contest that Baku is hosting in May, which will gather journalists from more than 40 participating countries and fix the world’s eyes on Azerbaijan.