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Persecuted "Azadlig" newspaper journalist survives murder and abduction attempts, goes into hiding

(IRFS/IFEX) - IRFS expresses serious concern over two new attacks against "Azadlig" newspaper correspondent Agil Khalil.

Khalil called IRFS on the morning of 8 May 2008 and reported that, the evening before, someone attempted to push him in the path of an oncoming subway train at the 28 May Metro Station. Shortly afterward, two people attempted to abduct him while he was walking down the street. Khalil interprets both of these as further attempts to murder him. As a result of these incidents, Khalil has decided to temporarily stop working at "Azadlig" and is no longer staying in his own apartment.

These new attacks come on the heels of earlier acts of violence against the journalist. On 22 February, Khalil was beaten by two men, including an officer from the National Security Ministry, while trying to investigate the cutting down of trees in the Zeytun Baglari (Olive Gardens) in Baku. He was then stabbed in the chest on 13 March, and targeted by a vicious government-orchestrated black PR campaign on a local television channel.

IRFS calls for law enforcement agencies to immediately investigate these two new acts of aggression against Khalil, utilizing video footage from the security cameras located in 28 May Metro Station, and to also take stringent measures to ensure Khalil's safety.

IRFS also calls on the government of Azerbaijan to fulfill its obligations in the areas of freedom of expression and other human rights. Lastly, IRFS call on the international community to continue to pressure the Azerbaijan government to fulfill its obligations in these areas, and to move towards taking concrete sanctions against the government if critical improvements are not made soon.

Updates the Khalil case:

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