Annual Prison Census 2011 - Azerbaijan
|Publisher||Committee to Protect Journalists|
|Publication Date||8 December 2011|
|Cite as||Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2011 - Azerbaijan, 8 December 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f0420b128.html [accessed 2 August 2015]|
Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2011
Avaz Zeynally, Khural
Imprisoned: October 28, 2011
Authorities in Baku arrested Zeynally on bribery and extortion charges stemming from a complaint filed by Gyular Akhmedova, a member of parliament. Akhmedova alleged that the editor had tried to extort 10,000 manat (US$12,700) from her in an August encounter, news reports said. A Nasimi District Court judge ordered that Zeynally be held in pretrial detention for three months, the independent Caucasus news website Kavkazsky Uzel reported. He faced up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
Zeynally denied the charges and described a much different encounter with Akhmedova. In September, Zeynally reported in Khural that Akhmedova had offered him money in exchange for his paper's loyalty to authorities. He said he had refused the offer.
Emin Huseynov, director of the Baku-based Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety, told CPJ that Zeynally's paper had criticized President Ilham Aliyev's repressive policies toward independent journalists and opposition activists. Before his arrest, Zeynally had published two commentaries in Khural that were especially critical of the administration. In the first, the editor disparaged comments made by Aliyev in a mid-October Al-Jazeera interview that painted a glowing picture of the country's development. In the second commentary, Zeynally accused the government of retaliatory prosecution against his newspaper, Huseynov told CPJ.
On October 19, the same day Akhmedova filed her complaint, court officers in Baku raided Khural's newsroom and confiscated all of its reporting equipment. The raid stemmed from a 2010 defamation lawsuit filed by two presidential administration officials over a story alleging corruption. Court officers said Zeynally had failed to pay 15,000 manat (US$19,000) in damages that a Baku court had imposed in the case earlier in 2011, Kavkazsky Uzel reported. Khural's website continued to operate but the print edition ceased following Zeynally's imprisonment and the police raid.