STATEMENT OF THE INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY

April 11th, 2008

The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety condemns the recent sending of inappropriate and provocative text messages that appear to be related to the case of Agil Khalil, and assesses these messages as moral pressure against journalists.

These messages are a continuation of the intense black P.R. campaign being conducted against “Azadlig” Newspaper and its staff. 
Yesterday a text message that read, “We lived to the see the day. Azerbaijan will be accepted into the World Homosexual Association before it gets into NATO. We have accepted all of you as member of the board. The organization’s first meeting will be May 1,” was sent to Parliamentarian Jamil Hasanli (who has been selected to lead the Committee to Defend the Rights of Agil Khalil), Azerbaijan Intellectuals Movement Chairman Eldaniz Guliyev, former chief editor of “Khalg” Newspaper Mahal Ismayil oglu, “Yeni Musavat” Newspaper Chief Editor Rauf Arifoglu, “Azadlig” Newspaper Director Azer Ahmedov, “Turan” News Agency Director Mehman Aliyev, “Zerkalo” Newspaper political commentary writer Rauf Mirgedirov and a number of other well-known people.  The message was sent from the telephone numbers (+99450)588-2215 and (+99450)525-2531. 
Today it was revealed that the phone number (+99450)588-2215 belongs to “Azadlig” Newspaper employee Fikret Huseynli. Huseynli told the IRFS that he did not send these text messages. According to him, yesterday evening he received a text message to his phone which read, “If you want to talk about what you wrote to me, keep your phone line open.” After this “Khalg” Newspaper former Chief Editor Mahal Ismayil oglu called and said, “Is this issue not shameful?” Huseynli did not understand, and asked Ismayil oglu what happened. He said, “I received an insulting message from your telephone number.”  After several other people called Huseynli saying the same thing, it become clear that someone sent text messages to the abovementioned people from Huseynli’s phone number with the abovementioned text. 
Throughout the day IRFS tried to call the other number, (+99450)525-2531, however it was closed. 
An investigation by IRFS has revealed that anyone can send a message to someone’s mobile phone from another person’s telephone number. This is possible two ways. First of all, if someone gets their hands on an original mobile telephone SMS card for several minutes they can produce a duplicate of that card.  In that case, anytime the real owner of that number turns off his/her telephone off, the duplicate of that SMS card can be used. The other way is through the use of special internet sites from which text messages can be sent to any mobile number as if it came from any mobile number.   
IRFS calls for all of those behind these provocations to put an end to such behavior. At the same time, IRFS calls on special services organs to investigate these issues and Azerbaijan’s government to punish those who participated in and stand behind the beating, stabbing, threatening, blackmailing and persecution of journalist Agil Khalil.