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Journalist stabbed

(IRFS/IFEX) - On 30 August 2010, at about 11 p.m., "Komanda" newspaper's sports writer Rasul Shukursoy was stabbed. The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the stabbing and considers this an attack on freedom of speech.

The journalist told IRFS that he got off the bus in an area called Merkez and was on his way home when he felt that somebody was following him.

"I was about 700 to 800 meters from my home when he reached me," said Rasul Shukursoy. "I turned and at this point he swung at me towards my heart with a knife. I was quick enough to avoid the blow to my heart, and therefore it hit my arm. I kicked him immediately and his knife fell on the ground. Fighting hand-to-hand, I saw him trying to grab the knife and I quickly left the scene. That person also left quickly in the opposite direction." Shukursoy added that he went home after the incident.

After receiving first aid at a hospital, he appealed to the Binagadi district Police Department Police Unit #4.

Stressing that he has no personal enmity with anyone, the journalist said that the incident may be connected with his professional work, namely with football player Mahmud Gurbanov's assault which took place at the editorial office on August 22nd.

According to "Komanda" newspaper, Gurbanov became angry after the article entitled "The person who changed his reputation with money" was published in the newspaper on 15 August. Gurbanov went to the editorial office of "Komanda" newspaper, injured the editor-in-chief, insulted the newspaper's employees and damaged property.

"After this incident the editorial office received threatening emails," said Shukursoy. "One of the emails stated that they didn't want to kill editor-in-chief Rashad Ergun and editor Natig Mukhtarli because they are married, however Rasul Sukursoy should protect himself or something bad will happen to him."

The journalist emphasized that the newspaper staff was offered money to drop the issue with Gurbanov. Shukursoy believes that this incident is linked to these emails. He noted that either the player himself or people wanting to benefit from this may have a connection to the incident.

"Komanda" newspaper editor-in-chief Ergun confirmed that the newspaper received threatening emails and talked about the content of those emails.

"The letters, which were sent under the names Famil Salamov and Yalcin Gurbanov, claimed that the office employees, especially Rasul Shukursoy and myself, are in danger," the editor-in-chief emphasized.

Football player Gurbanov told IRFS that he has no relation with the emails or the stabbing of the journalist.

"I don't know this journalist at all," said Mahmud Gurbanov. "If I have something to tell somebody, I do it directly, and I have never sent any emails to anyone. I suppose it is a set-up against me or part of "Komanda" newspaper's blackmail plan."

Gurbanov spoke about the conflict that occurred in the editorial office recently. He stressed that a dispute erupted with the employees in the editorial office, but denied injuring anyone or damaging any property.

IRFS's phone calls to Police Unit #4 were not returned.

IRFS calls on law-enforcement bodies to investigate the incident and to find the criminals and prosecute them.

IRFS states that the subjection of this journalist to harassment for the article published by the newspaper contradicts Azerbaijan's constitution, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the Azerbaijan Criminal Code. Moreover, a criminal case must be launched against the person who physically injured the journalist using a knife.

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