Journalists Sentenced on Defamation Charges
International PEN protests the three-month prison sentences handed down to newspaper journalists Sardar Alibeili and Faramaz Nozruzoglu (Allahverdiyev) on defamation charges. PEN is alarmed about the poor state of freedom of expression in Azerbaijan, and calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Alibeili and Nozruzoglu, and all others currently detained in violation of their right to freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Azerbaijan is a state party.
Sardar Alibeili and Faramaz Nozruzoglu (Allahverdiyev), editor-in-chief and journalist for the newspaper Nota, respectively, were imprisoned on October 8, 2009, after the Court of Appeals upheld the sentences handed down by the Baku District Court in July 2009. In the same trial, journalist Ramiz Tagiyev was conditionally sentenced to six months of corrective labor, and in addition has to hand over part of his monthly income to the state during that time. The charges against all three were filed by the chairman of the local government union Azadlyg Harakatchilari (Freedom Movement), who claims he was insulted in six articles published in Nota.
This is not the first time that Sardar Alibeili and Faramaz Nozruzoglu have been sentenced for defamation. Nozruzoglu was sentenced to two-and-a-half-years' imprisonment on January 30, 2007 on charges of criminal libel after Nota Bene (former name of Nota) published an article he had written concerning the Azerbaijani Interior Minister. Alibeili was also charged and sentenced to a levy on his salary for 18 months. Faramaz Nozruzoglu was released along with four other journalists under a presidential pardon on December 28, 2007.
In mid-February 2008 Faramaz Nozruzoglu reported receiving threatening phone calls regarding his novel Girl’s Spring Tragedy, which was printed in Nota Bene after his release from prison.
The continued detention and convictions of these and other journalists indicates the persistent hostility towards independent and opposition media by the Azerbaijani authorities in a country where defamation and false charges are increasingly used to silence dissenting voices.
Write A Letter
- Protesting the three-month prison sentences given to Sardar Alibeili and Faramaz Nozruzoglu (Allahverdiyev), editor-in-chef and journalist for the newspaper Nota, respectively;
- Calling for their immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Azerbaijan is a state party;
- Calling on the authorities to take urgent measures to ensure the safety of journalists and freedom of expression.
Send Your Letter To
President Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
19 Istiqlaliyyat Street
Fax: 00 994 12 492 0625
E-mail: [email protected]
Minister of Internal Affairs
Lt.-Gen. Ramil Usubov
Ministry of Internal Affairs
Husu Hajiyev Street 7
Fax: + 994 12 492 45 90
Please also send copies of your appeals to the diplomatic representative for Azerbaijan in your country if possible.
Please check with PEN if sending appeals after November 30, 2009: ftw [at] pen.org