Reporters Without Borders is shocked by the inhuman and degrading treatment of Khayal TV editor-in-chief Zaur Guliyev by members of the interior ministry’s organized crime division in Baku since 14 March, the day after his arrest in the northern town of Quba in connection with a YouTube video that set off rioting there.
“This physical and psychological harassment of Guliyev must stop at once,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We demand acceptable conditions of detention for this journalist and we call on the judicial authorities to respond quickly to the complaint he has made.”
Guliyev, who was charged on 22 March with violating public and “abuse of power,” has said that he was tortured repeatedly at the organized crime division in Baku.
According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, he was interrogated repeatedly for hours at a time with his hands tied behind his back and while being subjected to considerable psychological pressure to admit his involvement in the video that triggered the Quba riots and the dismissal of the head of the Quba government, Rauf Habibov, on 1 March.
The interrogations sessions were conducted by Vilayat Eyvazov, deputy to the Interior Minister, and Mirgafar Seyidov, chief of the organized crime division. They made it clear to him that he would be convicted regardless of whether he confessed.
He has been moved to a different cell several times and each time the conditions have worsened. The cells have been small, unheated and unhygienic and he has had to share them with dangerous common criminals serving long sentences. He has also been humiliated repeatedly by his jailers, who have made him walk along corridors naked.
Although he has a stomach ulcer, he has been denied medical care and had no access to any medicine at all until his transfer to Baku prison on 14 April, after being held at the organized crime division for a month. His condition is very worrying because, despite his repeated requests, no one has given him the treatment he needs, the ulcer has worsened and he now has chronic gastric blood reflux.
Although Azerbaijan is trying to improve its image in the run-up to the Eurovision song contest in Baku at the end of May, journalists’ rights continue to be flouted. It is ranked 162nd out of 179 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.
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