Reporters Without Borders welcomes imprisoned journalist Ganimat Zahidov’s early release on the president’s orders. The editor of the opposition daily Azadlig, Zahidov was released from Prison Colony No. 17 on 11 March. He had been held since November 2007 on a trumped-up charge of hooliganism.
“I want to thank all the people who contributed to my release,” Zahidov said as he left the prison. “I have a right to freedom.” Although he appeared weak, he said he was in good health and intended to go back to work at the head of Azadlig as soon as he had recovered his strength.
He said nothing about the conditions in which he was held, but insisted that he was innocent of the charges brought against him. Imprisonment had not broken him and he would continue to fight for his freedom and his ideas, he added.
Arrested after publishing articles critical of the government, Zahidov was sentenced to four years in prison on 13 May 2008 on a charge of “aggravated hooliganism” under article 127.2.3 of the criminal code. (lien 20 février 2008)
Reporters Without Borders calls for the quashing of Zahidov’s conviction and the release of Eynulla Fatullayev, the only other journalist still in prison in Azerbaijan. The editor of the two leading opposition dailies, Realny Azerbaijan and Gundelik Azerbaijan, Fatullayev was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison on 16 January 2008. (lien)
Reporters Without Borders continues to monitor the press freedom situation closely. Fatullayev’s family received an anonymous threatening phone call this week that appeared to have been prompted by a statement he issued from prison at the start of the month accusing the national security ministry of being behind newspaper editor Elmar Huseynov’s murder in March 2005. (lien)
Several editors were summoned to the national security ministry on 17 March and interrogated for several hours for reporting Fatullayev’s allegations. They were told not to do it again.
Ganimat Zahidov received the Austrian RSF Price in 2009.