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Detained opposition journalist begins another hunger strike

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced concern about the state of health of imprisoned journalist Sakit Zahidov, who began a hunger strike on 3 February 2008 to protest against his conditions of detention and to demand medical attention. He has been detained since 23 June 2006.

"We call for Zahidov's immediate release, especially as the reasons for which he is being held are above all political," the press freedom organisation said. "The OSCE has been voicing its support for him since 2006. If the authorities want to show they are interested in protecting free expression, releasing Zahidov would be a good start."

Zahidov already staged two hunger strikes in July and October 2007. He is demanding to be transferred to a hospital for treatment but the authorities at N14 prison, where he is being held, and the prison doctors have refused. His wife, Rena Zahidova, said: "His condition is deteriorating, he can no longer walk, but he is pressing on with his hunger strike."

Zahidov, who works for the opposition daily "Azadlig", was sentenced on 4 October 2006 to three years in prison for "possession of drugs for personal consumption" under article 234.1 of the criminal code, although no evidence was produced to support this charge during the trial.

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