INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS` FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

October 20th, 2011
The Institute for Reporters` Freedom and Safety condemns the confiscation of computers and other technical equipment from the Khural newspaper office by the executors from Narimanov District Court.

IRFS considers this an act of aggression of  Azerbaijani authorities against freedom of expression and condemns the court executors’ disregard for the law.
In May of this year, the property of Khural newspaper was inventoried in preparation of a 10 000 AZN fine requested by a lawsuit filed by the head of the Presidential Administration Ramiz Mehdiyev, a 5000 AZN fine relating to a lawsuit filed by the executive director of the State Support Foundation to Mass Media Vufar Safarli, and a 4000 AZN fine relating to the lawsuit filed by singer Nushaba Alasgarli. The newspaper appealed for the termination of the execution of these fines because of lack of funds.
To note, Khural newspaper was established in October 2002 and was published once a week. But, beginning September 20, 2011, it began publishing daily. According to Khural newspaper editor-in-chief Avaz Zeynalli, newspaper began publishing daily with the help of equipment given by his colleagues.  A very small part of the confiscated equipment was actually owned by Khural newspaper as the court executors included in the inventory the property of the Liberal.az website, whose office is situated in the same building, and computers lent to Khural by other organizations.
IRFS notes that the executors of the court did not allow Khural newspaper   appealing to court against decision to confiscate property owned by the newspaper. They could appeal to court against decision during 10 days.  However, the executors of the Narimanov District Court immediately and illegally   executed court decision.  IRFS believes that this is action carried out for silencing an independent newspaper. Azerbaijan authority has responsibilities.
Although Khural newspaper has been publishing daily during one month, the newspaper became very popular in Azerbaijan society and it is distinguished from other newspapers with criticizing articles. IRFS doesn’t exclude the fact that the main reason for this step is large activities of the newspaper recent month and an article criticizing opinions which the president Ilham Aliyev told during his interview to AL-Jazira on October 11, 2011.  Therefore, IRFS demands Azerbaijani government and the president to be tolerant against the journalists, to give up trumped up charges against Khural newspaper and to return the newspaper’s properties that taken away from the office in short time.