STATEMENT OF THE INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY REGARDING ARREST OF “IDEAL” NEWSPAPER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF ALI HASANOV

November 17th, 2008
On 14 November 2008 Nasimi District Court judge Elmar Karimov issued a decision to sentence “Ideal" Newspaper's Chief Editor Ali Hasanov to six months of detention.

The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety considers this decision to punish Ali Hasanov inadequate and condemns the decision.
IRFS notes that Azerbaijani citizen Sabira Mahmudova, who has "Garabagin Hajari" (Karabakh’s Hajar) nickname, filed a lawsuit against "Ideal" Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Ali Hasanov and the newspaper's founder Nazim Guliyev in special order.
Mahmudova participated in Nagorniy Karabakh war.  She chose Garabagin Hajari (Karabakh’s Hajar) nickname in honor of Hajar, the wife of Nabi – the hero in Azerbaijani national heroism epos “Gachag Nabi”. Mahmudova is known by this name in Azerbaijan.
The lawsuit stems from article titled "Misir Mardanov's son-in-law's parents, Huseynbala Miralamov's Godfather" and subtitled "Are you aware of real profession of a woman who teaches?" (16 August 2008), and an article titled "Teacher or Mama Roza" (29 August 2008).
Mahmudova, alleging that "Ideal" Newspaper constantly insults her honor and dignity, sought to have Hasanov and "Ideal" Newspaper founder Nazim Guliyev punished in accordance with articles 147.2 and 148 of Azerbaijan's Criminal Code. She also demanded that the defendants apologize, that a refutation be published in the newspaper, and that the newspaper's editorial office and specifically Guliyev pay her 100,000 AZN for moral damages she has allegedly suffered.
During his conversation with IRFS employees prior to his arrest Hasanov admitted that Mahmudova was in fact insulted in “Ideal” newspaper.  However, he stated that the articles in question were published in the "Ideal" Newspaper before he was Editor-in-Chief and therefore did not hold any responsibility for the thoughts reflected there. Despite this, he apologized to Mahmudova on behalf of himself and the newspaper’s founder Guliyev through an article he published in “Ideal” newspaper.
IRFS launched an investigation on lawsuits put forth against “Ideal” newspaper considering that several lawsuits had been filed against the newspaper. In the end IRFS will unveil its opinion to public in connection with the lawsuits and activity of the newspaper.
IRFS is against the imprisonment of anyone because of speech. Therefore IRFS calls on Azerbaijan's government to discontinue the arrests for speech, and to eliminate articles on defamation from the Criminal Code.