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Newspaper correspondent threatened over critical article

(IRFS/IFEX) - On 16 July 2008, Sabuhi Mammadli, a correspondent for "Yeni Musavat" newspaper, was threatened by physician Rauf Agayev, of the Jalilabad Court Medical Expertise Department, and his relative, Faraj Bayramov. According to Mammadli, the threat stems from his 15 July article, "Inhuman Action of an Official in Jalilabad".

Bayramov telephoned Mammadli and told him that the article "does not reflect reality". The journalist responded that he was ready to publish Bayramov's position, and noted that this was indicated at the end of the article. Hearing this, Bayramov replied, "We'll talk with you in a different way."

"After this call I received a call from a hidden number. The person on the phone claimed he was Rauf Agayev and began to threaten me immediately. He said, 'I'll come to your editorial office and behead you. Wait and see how I will cripple you'," said Mammadli.

Mammadli had written in the article that the corpse of Rubaba Rustamgizi, who died of a heart attack in Jalilabad, was kept in a morgue for ten days, and her relatives were ordered to pay to get the body back.

In a separate development, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Representative on Media Freedom Miklos Haraszti issued a statement on 17 July condemning the recent verdict by the Nasimi District Court in the case against Sergey Strekalin. Strekalin was sentenced for allegedly stabbing "Azadlig" newspaper correspondent Agil Khalil.

"This is the climax of a smear campaign orchestrated by law-enforcers against Khalil, his newspaper, and the remnants of critical journalism in Azerbaijan," said Haraszti.

Later in the statement Haraszti went on to say, "I view the show trial against Strekalin as an attempt to protect the real stabbers [. . .]. To illustrate how far-fetched these allegations are, let me remind you that after the prosecution stopped the case against the two officers who attacked Khalil in February, it waged a large-scale public campaign to discredit the journalist. To support their scenario, the prosecution ordered the major television channels to broadcast videos where Strekalin confessed to the stabbing of the journalist by posing as a jealous ex-lover."

The statement can viewed in its entirety at http://www.osce.org/item/32232.html

For further information on the Khalil case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95467

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