REPS. OF DIPLOMATIC CORPS AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS VISIT AGIL KHALIL IN HOSPITAL

March 14th, 2008
Today a number of representatives from the diplomatic corps and international organizations, including several ambassadors, visited “Azadlig” Newspaper correspondent Agil Khalil in the hospital.

U.S. Ambassador Anne Derse read a statement. She said, “We are shocked and appalled by this heinous crime.  Our hearts go out to the young man and his family. This attack and other violent attacks against journalists have created a climate of fear in an apparent effort to silence critical voices in Azerbaijan. I know that all freedom-loving Azerbaijanis share our outrage and dismay at this cowardly deed, and agree that it is unacceptable (see statement in its entirety below).”   
Norway’s ambassador to Azerbaijan Jan Ramberg also visited A. Khalil. He wished A. Khalil a swift recovery. “I too was a journalist, and I believe that investigative journalism is a very important matter.” At the same time, the ambassador said that he hopes that the government will find and punish the people behind this crime.  
A representative present at the hospital from Germany’s embassy in Baku said such an attack on a journalist creates a climate of uncertainty.  
OSCE Baku Office Legal Department representative Marko Rocco said that he is well informed about this situation. “We have been following the events that have occurred since 22 February, and think it is unfortunate that despite so many appeals the people responsible for this incident have not been arrested. We hope that the people responsible for this latest incident will be arrested and will be brought before a court.”
Press Council Chairman Aflatun Amashev also visited Khalil. He said that the Press Council is always concerned about the arrests of journalists and pressure on them.
PACE co-rapportuer for Azerbaijan Andres Herkel expressed his opinion on this attack to the local press. Herkel said he believes that “this should be approached not as the stabbing of a journalist, but as an attempted murder.” Herkel likened Khalil to slain “Monitor” Journal Chief Editor Elmar Huseynov, and emphasized that the criminal case on this incident must be taken seriously.