THREE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS SEND LETTER TO ILHAM ALIYEV DUE TO JAILING OF JOURNALISTS FOR DEFAMATION

October 15th, 2009
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the World Editors Forum and the International Association of Sports Newspapers have protested to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev against the jailing of two journalists for defamation after his administration promised that measures were being taken to decriminalize the offense.

“We are astonished that two journalists have been jailed for defamation only two weeks after an official in your administration, Ali Hasanov, assured a WAN-IFRA delegation that serious measures were being taken to
improve the situation of the independent press,” the three organisations said in a letter to President Aliyev.. 

A delegation from WAN-IFRA visited Azerbaijan in late September to assess the press freedom situation and called on the government to introduce drastic reforms to create full media freedom.
On 8 October, the Baku Court of Appeals upheld the sentencing of Sardar Alibeili, editor-in-chief of the weekly Nota, and reporter Faramaz Novruzoglu, to three months in jail, and the conditional sentencing of journalist Ramiz Tagiyev to six months of corrective labor, for defamation.
On 9 October, on the basis of an appeal adopted on the special lawsuit of several employees of the Internal Army against the decision of the Nizami District Court, Sardar Alibeyli was sentenced to total four months imprisonment in addition to the previous sentence against him.

On 7 October the Nasimi District court issued a verdict against “FANAT.AZ” sports website project head Zahir Azamat and website’s sports writer Natig Mukhtarli on “Khazar-Lankaran” Football Club President Mais Masimov’s lawsuit. According to the verdict, Natig Mukhtarli was sentenced to one year and Zahir Azamat to six months of corrective labor. The journalists have to pay 20 % of their salaries to Mais Masimov .