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Avaz Zeynally, Azerbaijan, jailed since October 2011

Avaz Zeynally, Azerbaijan, jailed since October 2011

Article ID:

17650

Day 22
Country: Azerbaijan
Journalist: Avaz Zeynally
Media: Khural
Jailed since: October 2011

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Avaz Zeynally, chief editor of the independent Azerbaijani daily Khural, was arrested and imprisoned in October 2011 after a parliament member accused him of demanding money in return for not publishing critical reports. Sixteen months later, he was sentenced to nine years in prison. Supporters outside the Baku courthouse decried his sentencing and yelled “freedom” as the verdict was announced.

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Zeynally has denied all the charges against him and says government reprisal for critical reporting landed him behind bars. In the month prior to his arrest, Zeynally had also published in his paper a very different encounter with ruling party member Gyuler Akhmedova. Zeynally wrote that it was Akhmedova who had offered him bribes in exchange for favourable reporting of authorities.

During this time, Zeynally’s paper had published critical commentaries of the administration, including revealing its repressive policies toward independent journalists and opposition activists. The defense said the court failed to present any credible evidence against Zeynally, while the parliamentary member was herself later charged with fraud after a video emerged of her allegedly selling a seat in parliament for a million dollars.

As Azerbaijan assumes the chairmanship of the Council of Europe in May 2014, it continues to imprison journalists who report on government corruption and human rights abuses. In recent years, Azerbaijan’s government has imprisoned a record number of bloggers, journalists and human rights defenders. According to CPJ, nine journalists aside from Zeynally languish in jail, including editors Hilal Mammadov, Araz Guliyev, and Nijat Aliyev; media directors Vugar Gonagov and Zaur Guliyev; and journalists Fuad Huseynov, Faramaz Novruzoglu (Allahverdiyev), and Tofiq Yaqublu.

 

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#FreethePress calls for the release of Avaz Zeynally and all journalists jailed in #Azerbaijan bit.ly/QNPGL1

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Author

wm_WanIfra

Date

2014-04-26 10:26

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Author

Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop

Date

2014-04-03 20:08

On the eve of World Press Freedom Day 2014, the press freedom situation in Azerbaijan is worse than perhaps ever before. Journalists and bloggers who dare to criticize the authorities or cover risky topics such as human rights abuses and corruption face a range of pressures, including harassment, intimidation, threats, blackmail, violent attack, and imprisonment.

Author

Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop

Date

2014-04-26 10:32