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Azerbaijan


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New York, March 17, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a five-year jail term given today to Tofiq Yaqublu, an Azerbaijani journalist with the opposition daily Yeni Musavat, and calls on authorities to overturn the verdict on appeal. Yaqublu, who was convicted of "organizing mass disorder," was arrested in January 2013 in connection with anti-government protests in the town of Ismayilli. He was covering the protests at the time of his arrest, his colleagues said. The journalist is appealing the verdict.

New York, February 21, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists is gravely concerned by the official harassment of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, who is being criminally investigated in Baku in apparent retaliation for her reporting on government corruption. Ismayilova works for the Azerbaijani service of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

Calls for journalists to exercise a sense of responsibility are very often code for censorship. Yet unethical journalism can also imperil the press. By Jean-Paul Marthoz

The News of the World scandal, in which the British Sunday tabloid hacked voicemails of celebrities and ordinary citizens, led to a divisive debate on how to regulate the media in the U.K. (Reuters/Luke MacGregor)

As Azerbaijan prepared to assume the 2014 chairmanship of the Council of Europe—the largest European intergovernmental human rights and democracy organization—the authoritarian regime of President Ilham Aliyev shamelessly trampled on press freedom at home. The authorities continued to stifle critical voices, target free expression on the Web, and sentence reporters to lengthy prison terms. A local journalist was barred from leaving the country to pick up his journalism prize in Norway, while dozens of foreign media personnel were declared persona non grata in Azerbaijan. The harassment, including by the government-affiliated press, of investigative journalist Khadija Ismailova went unpunished. Aliyev extended criminal defamation laws to the Internet and tightened funding restrictions for domestic NGOs, including press freedom organizations, despite a domestic and international outcry. In June, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso offered Aliyev public support instead of holding the leader responsible for human rights and press freedom violations in his country. In October, the authoritarian leader was re-elected to his third term after the Central Elections Commission denied registration to opposition candidate Rustam Ibragimbekov.

For the second consecutive year, Turkey was the world’s leading jailer of journalists, followed closely by Iran and China. The number of journalists in prison globally decreased from a year earlier but remains close to historical highs. A CPJ special report by Elana Beiser

Turkish journalists protest for media rights in Istanbul on November 5, 2013. Demonstrators proceeded at a rate of one step per minute to highlight the slow process of justice in Turkey. (AFP/Ozan Kose)

New York, December 9, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the 10-year jail sentence given today to Azerbaijani journalist Nijat Aliyev, and calls on authorities to release the journalist on appeal.

Editor Sardar Alibeili, right, has been sentenced to four years in prison. (IRFS)

New York, November 14, 2013--Authorities in Azerbaijan should release on appeal a journalist sentenced to four years in jail on trumped-up charges of hooliganism, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The conviction comes as Azerbaijan is scheduled to assume the rotating chairmanship in the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe in May.

New York, September 30, 2013--An appellate court in Azerbaijan should reverse the conviction and five-year prison sentence handed on Friday to Hilal Mamedov, chief editor of the independent newspaper Talyshi Sado.

New York, September 19, 2013--Authorities in Azerbaijan must immediately release a journalist who was arrested on Tuesday on fabricated charges and ordered detained for two months, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The press in Azerbaijan must be allowed to freely cover the country's next presidential vote, scheduled for October 9, if it is to be legitimate, CPJ said.

A court has ordered Editor Sardar Alibeili to be jailed for two months pending investigation. (IRFS)

New York, August 5, 2013--Authorities in Azerbaijan should stop their practice of jailing journalists in retaliation for their work, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. A district court in Baku on Friday ordered the imprisonment of Sardar Alibeili, chief editor of the independent newspaper P.S. Nota, for two months pending investigation of a criminal hooliganism charge, according to news reports. Alibeili, who has faced trumped-up charges in the past, faces up to seven years in jail on the new charge, the reports said.

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Killed in Azerbaijan

5 journalists killed since 1992

2 journalists murdered

2 murdered with impunity

Attacks on the Press 2012

9 Jailed on December, up from 2011. State cracks down as it hosts Eurovision contest.

Country data, analysis »

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