June 11th, 2008

Public Relations coordinator of the Justice Ministry’s Penitentiary Service Mehman Sadigov says the confiscation of the 300 page manuscript of the book “Azadlig” newspaper Editor-in-Chief Ganimat Zahid was trying to write while in Bayil prison #1 is legal.

“I can’t say anything about what or whom the book was written about. But if the leadership of the prison took it from him, they did it legally on the basis of internal discipline rules,” M. Sadigov told “Media Forum” website.
However, G. Zahid’s defense lawyer Osman Kazimov told Mediaforum that the confiscation of the book illegal. “The book may be taken in case it includes criminal signs in itself. What has Ganimat written here or whom did he insult in the book? They cannot take it, the manuscript must be returned. What can or cannot be given to the persons held in prisoners is reflected in the law. Zahid’s pen and paper do not belong in the banned list and that is why cannot be confiscated.”

O. Kazimov mentioned also that even the letters written by the prisoners or detained persons, who are under investigation, to their families and friends cannot be read and this is regulated by law. 

According to Zahid’s wife Ayende Mursaliyeva, the manuscript contains 300 pages and is not a diary. “Ganimat wrote a book about the socio-political life of Azerbaijan and wanted to publish it after he is released,” Murselaliyeva told Mediaforum. “I took paper to him twice while he was held in Bayil. If it was against the internal rules of the prison to give him paper and pencil, then why did they allow the white paper to be taken in?”

According to Mursaliyeva, G. Zahid already stated that he will appeal to the head officially to return the manuscript which is …. “After the official appeal next steps will be defined. I have talked to the head of Bayil Prison personally. I told M.Aliyev, ‘You made promise to return the book.’ He answered ‘who is close to me: Ganimat or the government?’ He admitted that he doesn’t want to have a headache because of a book written in Bayil and is careful about his job.”