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Editor Sentenced To Six-Month Jail Term

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  • Editor Sentenced To Six-Month Jail Term


    CPJ Press Freedom Online
    Committee to Protect Journalists
    Nov 18 2008

    New York, November 18, 2008--An Azerbaijani court convicted
    Ali Hasanov, editor-in-chief of the pro-government daily Ideal,
    on defamation charges and sentenced him to six months in jail,
    according to the head of the Baku-based Institute for Reporters'
    Freedom and Safety (IRFS), Emin Huseynov.

    The journalist was taken immediately into custody in court on
    Friday. His lawyer plans to appeal the ruling, according to Huseynov.

    Hasanov's trial was based on a lawsuit filed in September by a woman
    named Sabira Makhmudova, who claimed that Hasanov and his deputy
    editor, Nazim Guliyev insulted her honor and dignity in two articles
    published in August. Makhmudova demanded that the two journalists be
    imprisoned, Huseynov told CPJ. On October 30, Nasimi District Court
    convicted Guliyev in absentia of insulting Makhmudova and ordered
    his arrest, the Baku-based news agency Trend reported. He has been
    in hiding since mid-October.

    "It is alarming that one journalist is in jail and another in hiding
    because of a defamation suit that should never have been heard by a
    criminal court," CPJ Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "Any
    complaint against Ideal or its editor-in-chief, Ali Hasanov, should
    have been brought in civil proceedings. We call on the court of
    appeal to overturn Hasanov's conviction. Meanwhile authorities should
    release him from jail and drop the threat of criminal charges against
    Nazim Guliyev."

    Huseynov told CPJ that the two articles--which had no bylines--alleged
    that Makhmudova, a Nagorno-Karabakh war veteran, was connected to a
    prostitution ring. Huseynov, whose colleagues at IRFS monitored the
    editor's trial, said that Hasanov admitted in court that the newspaper
    had published the two articles, but denied any involvement in their
    publication. Hasanov said that he only became editor of the paper
    after the two articles were published.

    With five behind bars, Azerbaijan is the second-leading jailer of
    journalists in Europe and Central Asia after Uzbekistan.