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On one-year anniversary of journalist's arrest, IRFS reiterates concerns about investigation and process

(IRFS/IFEX) - On 24 July 2008, the one-year anniversary of the arrest of "Bizim Yol" newspaper correspondent Mushfig Huseynov, IRFS recalled that the journalist is still under detention. Huseynov was arrested by employees of the Chief Prosecutor's Office and the National Security Ministry's Anti-terrorism Department on 24 July 2007. He was convicted of demanding a bribe of US$3,500 from Rizvan Aliyev, head of administration of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Azerbaijan Republic.

On 26 July 2007, Judge Gulnara Tagizade sentenced Huseynov to three months of pre-trial detention. The pre-trial detention was prolonged for three more months on 19 October 2007. On 21 January 2008, Huseynov was sentenced by Grave Crimes Court Judge Jamal Ramazanov to six years of imprisonment, followed by a two-year ban on working as a journalist. On 4 April, Baku Appellate Court Judge Sahibkhan Mirzayev issued a decision to reduce Huseynov's prison term to 5 years. The other aspects of the decision adopted by the Grave Crimes Court were upheld.

Prior to Huseynov's arrest, an article entitled "Provocation against 'Bizim Yol' Uncovered" was published in "Bizim Yol" on 14 June 2007, suggesting that the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection was looking for some means to arrest Huseynov. Before his arrest, Huseynov wrote a series of articles about illegal actions allegedly committed by the ministry's employees, including Minister Fuzuli Alakbarov and Aliyev.

IRFS released a special report about Huseynov's arrest on 14 February. Through its investigation, the organisation was able to determine that the journalist was arrested as part of an operation carried out by law-enforcement authorities to deter attention from the absence of an anticipated decree on National Press Day, 22 July, pardoning imprisoned journalists. Huseynov's arrest was broadcast on television and a smear campaign against the independent press was launched in pro-government newspapers. Moreover, IRFS found that Huseynov was repeatedly provoked by Aliyev into receiving money, and that the investigation into Huseynov's case was marred by a series of irregularities.

To download the report in Azeri, see: http://www.irfs.az/component/option,com_remository/Itemid,32/func,fileinfo/id,7/
For the report in English, see: http://www.irfs.az/component/option,com_remository/Itemid,32/func,fileinfo/id,8/

Updates the Huseynov case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/90143

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