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CPJ urges release of journalist Fuad Gahramanli

(CPJ/IFEX) - CPJ is gravely concerned about the imprisonment of Fuad
Qahramanli, a journalist and opposition activist who was sentenced to 18
months' imprisonment in November 1998 for having written an article which
the government of President Heidar Aliyev deemed to be a "call to social

**Updates IFEX alerts of 5 May and 20 April 1999**

On 27 November, 1998, Judge Sevil Mamedova of the Baku Municipal Court
sentenced Qahramanli under Article 63-1 ("Call to social disorder") of the
criminal code of Azerbaijan. The charges were prompted by an article written
by Qahramanli entitled "Meeting Tactics of the Opposition," which was
confiscated still in draft form during an illegal search of the offices of
the opposition newspaper "Chag". At the time of his sentencing, he had
already spent nearly six months in a pre-trial detention center.

On the night of 16 June 1998, acting upon a tip that guns were allegedly
hidden in the Baku offices of "Chag", police from the Ministry of Internal
Affairs raided the newspaper's offices. Although they did not find any
weapons, they did come across Qahramanli's article in draft form. It had yet
to be published in any newspaper. Under police pressure to reveal who had
written the article, Qahramanli turned himself in the next day. He was
arrested and placed in a pre-trial detention center, where he was held until
his sentencing. After his arrest, the article was published in the
pro-government newspaper "Khalg Gazeta", which ran the story of Qahramanli's
opposition activities and printed the article as an example of his alleged
subversive activities.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the president:
  • condemning the imprisonment of Qahramanli in reprisal for expressing
    criticism of his government
  • stating that the reprisals against Qahramanli are the latest example of
    pattern of repression of the opposition press since last October
  • reminding him of his commitment to uphold the principles embodied in
    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that
    "everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right
    includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive
    and impart information and ideas..."
  • urging him to use his good offices to see that Qahramanli is
    unconditionally released from prison
  • urging him to arrange for his unconditional release as part of the
    scheduled for 28 May, Azerbaijan's national independence day

    Appeals To

    His Excellency Heidar Aliyev
    Office of the President
    Ulitsa Levmontova 63
    Baku, Azerbaijan
    Fax: +994 12 92 06 25
    E-mail: [email protected]

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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