INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

February 18th, 2009
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) condemns that pre-trial order that forbids “Yeni Musavat” columnist Mahal Ismayiloglu from leaving Azerbaijan. IRFS interprets this decision as harassment against the journalist and is certain that the charges that have been levied against Ismayiloglu are spurious. IRFS also believes that undue stress caused by this pre-trial order and the spurious criminal case pending against Ismayiloglu have caused excessive stress for the journalist and been a contributing factor to the severe health deterioration that he is experiencing.

On February 14, Ismayiloglu was called to the Absheron Region Police Department in connection with a criminal case that was instituted against him eight months ago and informed that as a result of this case a pre-trial order had been issued forbidding him from leaving the country. As Ismayiloglu was familiarizing himself with the case materials, he began to feel ill, lost consciousness and fell over. Ismayiloglu was taken to the Central Medical Clinic, where doctors determined he had a heart attack. At present the journalist is receiving treatment at home at present, told IRFS that he needs to have a heart surgery, which will cost 7,000 AZN.
On 27 June 2008, M. Ismayiloglu was called to the Absheron District Police Department on the basis of a lawsuit filed against him by his neighbor Vahid Imanov, who works in the Ministry of Interior. In the complaint, it is alleged that the journalist beat his neighbor's servant for dumping trash in his yard. Therefore a criminal case on Article 221.3 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism with use of a weapon or weapon-like item) was instituted against M. Ismayiloglu.    
IRFS again condemns the groundless harassment of M. Ismayiloglu. IRFS calls on the government to end this harassment and drop the spurious criminal case against Ismayiloglu. IRFS also appeals to local and international organization to provide assistance so he can receive the medical care he needs.