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Four journalists arrested over Quba riots

UPDATE: Khayal TV correspondents' pre-trial detention extended (IRFS, 13 September 2012)

(RSF/IFEX) - 16.03.2012 - Reporters Without Borders deplores the arrests on 13 March of three employees of the television station Khayal TV — the executive director, Vugar Gonagov, the editor, Zaur Guliyev, and Zaur Mustafayev, the head of public relations — as well as Jamil Mammadli, a reporter with the Polygon news agency. All are accused of being implicated in the riots in the northern town of Quba in early March.

“These arrests highlight the predicament the authorities find themselves in over the disturbances in Quba,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Despite the dismissal of the head of the local government the day after the uprising, they persist in their search for the source of the video recording of his inflammatory remarks. Confidentiality of sources must be respected and those who work in the media must not be made scapegoats.

“These arrests have no legal foundation and we demand that the journalists be released as soon as possible.”

The four journalists were arrested in Quba, then taken to the capital, Baku, where they are being held in custody. According to information gathered by Reporters Without Borders, they have yet to be charged. Mammadli's home was reported to have been searched.

The arrests took place two weeks after a popular uprising broke out in Quba on 1 March. Thousands of demonstrators gathered to demand the resignation of the local government head Rauf Habibov, after a video was posted on YouTube showing him making derogatory remarks about residents at a team meeting.

Clashes broke out as the protesters were being dispersed, during which several journalists were beaten up. Rashad Aliyev, a video cameraman with the local NGO Institute of Freedom and Safety of Reporters, was hit on the head several times.
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