Today, the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety hosted a roundtable to discuss the lawsuits filed against Khural newspaper

Editor in chief Avaz Zeynalli said that 2010 had been a difficult year for the paper, and that the recent months had been dominated by the various court judgments made against Khural.
“Because we did not pay the fine imposed on us after a lawsuit brought by Azerbaijan Printing House four years ago, Narimanov District Court sent a warning to me. Then on February 3rd, after a 6-minute deliberation, the Court issued us with a 3,000 AZN fine. In addition to this, we had filed an appeal against the Narimanov District Court decision, which had fined us 500 AZN after the lawsuit brought by the head of the Mass Media Development Support Fund. But the Appeals Court increased this fine tenfold and ruled for a 5,000 AZN fine. There are another two court hearings pending: one on Etibar Huseynov’s lawsuit against Khural, and the other our appeal against the Appeals Court decision on the lawsuit brought against us by the head of the Presidential Administration, Ramiz Mehdiyev,” said Zeynalli.
According to journalist Shahvalad Chobanoglu, the Appeal Court’s ruling for a bigger fine suggests that they were operating under a political directive.
Azadlig newspaper editor-in-chief Ganimat Zahid proposed that all newspapers and media NGOs should form a coalition and form a united front against government pressure.
The Director of Turan News Agency Mehman Aliyev said that an appeal should be sent to the new US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, and that the diplomatic community should be made aware of the issues.
IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov confirmed that the media faces serious goverment restrictions. “Newspapers and media organizations operating must prepare a joint appeal and send it to President Ilham Aliyev, Vugar Safarli, the head of the Mass Media Development Support Fund and the head of the Presidential Administration. There is also a need for mass protest actions,” he said.
 “Nota P.S” editor-in-chief Sardar Alibayli stated that these measures are being implemented in order to bring the newspaper down.
At the end of the event, Avaz Zeynalli called for the readership to help pay the court fine. If 500 readers each contribute 10 AZN, then we can pay off our fine.”

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