April 22nd, 2009
Today, 22 April, in the press center of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, “Nota” Newspaper Editor-in-chief Serdar Alibeyli conducted a press conference in connection with the inclusion of “Nota” Newspaper in the Press Council’s list of “racketeering newspapers”.

Sardar Alibeyli spoke first and said that the inclusion of “Nota” Newspaper in the list of “racketeering newspapers” is a dirty game carried out by the Press Council (PC) and he does not accept this. According to Alibeyli, the Press Council has violated its regulations, and exceeded its authority by attempting to “punish” a newspaper that the council has no ties to, said Alibeyli. The editor-in-chief assessed this step as the beginning of a new wave of attack against freedom of speech and the independent press. Saying that he will never reconcile with such a decision, S. Alibeyli stated that he and his staff will fight to the end within the possible means of existing legislation to resolve this issue. In conclusion, the editor-in-chief said that despite serious obstacles in the publication of the “Nota” Newspaper last week, the newspaper was published. However the publication of the newspaper is under question. The inclusion of “Nota” Newspaper in the Press Council’s list of “racketeering newspapers” creates problems for the newspaper to be printed at the publishing house.
“Khural” Newspaper Editor-in-Ahief Avaz Zeynalli said that this incident is a form of pressure against the press in Azerbaijan, the Press Council was wrong and the independent press is in danger of being lost.
Media Rights Institute Lawyer Khalid Agaliyev stated that racketeering is a crime, however, wrongfully calling that a newspaper is involved in racketeering is also a crime.
At the end of the event, IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov spoke and said that the Press Council is an NGO, and accusing a newspaper in racketeering without having a court decision is a crime.
IRFS contacted the Head of the Press Council’s Commission to Fight against Racketeering Vugar Rahimzade in connection with this issue. He said that the Press Council has received a number of appeals regarding libel and insult of citizens by the newspapers listed as racketeering newspapers.
According to Rahimzade, last time on 16 April, with the participation of “Nota” Newspaper chief editor, the complaints were considered during a meeting by the Complaints Commission, the Press Council and Commission to Fight against Racketeering Press.

“The complaints received by the Press Council from citizens have been considered and those newspapers have been given a warning; however, they haven’t taken any measures and therefore such a decision was issued during our last meeting,” added V. Rahimzade.