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Newspaper editor sentenced to two and a half years in prison for articles about police

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is an IPI press release:

Vienna, 7 November 2007

IPI Condemns Sentencing of Azeri Editor-in-Chief Nazim Guliyev

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, strongly condemns the sentencing of Azeri Editor-in-Chief Nazim Guliyev to two and half years in prison on charges related to his profession.

According to information before IPI, Guliyev, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Azeri daily Ideal, was convicted of libel and defamation on 6 November in connection with two articles that appeared in the newspaper on 26 May and 29 August respectively about the State police. The lawsuit was originally based on complaints made by twelve police officers, although the court decided that only Ministry of Interior State Road Police Department Chief Ramiz Zeynalov had grounds to lodge such a complaint.

According to our information, Guliyev is now the eighth Azeri journalist to be held in prison, with a further two editors being held in pre-trial detention. This will be Guliyev's second prison term. He was also convicted in 2002 under Article 182 of the Azeri constitution for making threatening demands, although at the time many considered the charges spurious, and his arrest and conviction based on his journalism activities.

"We strongly condemn the imprisonment of Guliyev, which is the latest in a string of examples of journalists imprisoned for practicing their profession," said IPI Director Johann P. Fritz. "The conviction of Guliyev indicates the worsening press freedom climate in Azerbaijan, where a concerted effort seems to be underway to silence critical journalists. We strongly urge the authorities to release all imprisoned journalists in the Republic of Azerbaijan."

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