CONTINUING RESTRICTIONS ON OPERATION OF KHURAL NEWSPAPER

November 22nd, 2011
Today, at the IRFS press center, employees of Khural newspaper held a press conference to discuss the arrest of Editor-in-chief Avaz Zeynalli, and the restrictions on the newspaper’s operations

Khural employee Nuraddin Khoja deemed the arrest illegal and detailed the restrictions on the newspaper’s operations. “These restrictions are illegal, and we will fight against them. The prison conditions of our editor-in-chief Avaz Zeynalli are serious. He is still being held in a cold cell.
Khural newspaper editor Anar Mahmudoglu said that since October 20th, all local publishing houses have refused to print Khural newspaper.
“On November 4th, we applied to the Justice Ministry to register the newspaper under the name “Yeni Khural” (New Khural). Then on November 5th, people who identified themselves as employees of the National Security Ministry visited publishing houses warning them not to print Yeni Khural newspaper. It has been 17 days since our registration application, and we still have not received a response,” said Mahmudoglu. He added that the employees of the newspaper Nizami Hasanli, Kamran Zamanov and Nuraddin Khoja are being persecuted regularly.
BACKGROUND
On October 28th, Nasimi District Court sentenced the editor-in-chief of Khural newspaper Avaz Zeynalli to 3 months of pre-trial detention. A criminal case was launched against him under Articles 311.3.3 and 311.3.4 of the Criminal Code: taking large bribes and extorting bribes via application of threats by the Anti-Corruption Fight Department under the General Prosecutor’s Office. The launch of the criminal case is based on a complaint by MP Gular Ahmedova, who alleges that the editor extorted money from her. International and local human rights organizations believe this charge to be false and have released statements saying Zeynalli’s arrest is the direct consequence of anti-government articles that he wrote.
The property of Khural newspaper was confiscated on October 19th, due to the company’s failure to pay the 19,000 AZN court-issued fines for the head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev, Mass Media State Support Fund Executive Director Vugar Safarli and others. The newspaper was forced to cease operations on October 21, as the printing houses refused to print the newspaper.