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Two journalists threatened over their work

(IRFS/IFEX) - IRFS is concerned about two recent, separate incidences of journalists receiving threats related to their work.

On 14 March 2008, an unidentified person telephoned "Yeni Musavat" newspaper's editorial office and made threatening remarks about journalist Sabuhi Mammadli.

"My coworker answered the phone that day," Mammadli told IRFS. "The person introduced himself as an employee of Unit 7 of the Binegedi District Police Department and asked for me. When my coworker told him that I wasn't in the office, the person hung up after saying he will harm me and make me disabled." Mammadli had recently written two articles about Transportation Minister Ziya Mammadov. The journalist has not yet reported the incident to any law enforcement agencies.

On 18 March, "Hurriyyet" newspaper's Ganjabasar regional correspondent Ikram Rafigoglu was threatened by police. The journalist told IRFS that he received a call on his mobile phone summoning him to the Ganja City Police Department, where deputy police chief Ilgar Balakishiyev threatened him. Balakishiyev allegedly said: "Articles about arbitrariness in Ganja must end. You are under our surveillance all the time."

Rafigoglu told IRFS: "If there's something offensive in my articles, it is possible to resolve any complaints through the courts. I said this when talking to the deputy police chief, but he told me that my articles harm the city's image. He said the authorities want to stop my publishing such articles with the help of police. I am getting ready to file a lawsuit against Balakishiyev because of his interference in my work."

IRFS contacted Balakishiyev about the incident. Balakishiyev said: "You need to contact Interior Ministry Press Service representative Ehsan Zahidov. He knows everything about the incident."

IRFS then contacted Zahidov, who said: "I have looked into this incident and in fact, not everything is as Ikram stated. Some information about the correspondent came in to the Ganja City Police Department indicating that the journalist blackmailed and threatened associations, offices and production enterprises by writing articles about them with the intention to extort money from them. To clarify this matter, the deputy police chief invited the journalist to the department and Rafigoglu interpreted this as a threat. I would characterize his commentary on the incident in this way - as self-promotion."

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