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Azerbaijan28 June 2006

Support Committee calls for release of journalist Sakit Zahidov

Reporters Without Borders today publishes an appeal from the support committee for Sakit Zahidov to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) calling for the release of the journalist who has been in custody since 23 June 2006 for alleged drug possession. The appeal has been signed by 19 public figures, independent journalists, political leaders and human rights activists. Baku, Azerbaijan, 27 June 2006 Sakit Mirza Zahidov, a prominent satirical journalist, who works for the newspaper Azadlig, was arrested on 23 June, and accused of being in possession of 10 grams of heroin. At the hearing placing him in custody, Sakit Zahidov said that police had planted the drugs in his pocket and that his conditions of detention were contrary to Azerbaijani law. We, members of the forum to protect Sakit Zahidov’s rights, believe that his arrest was in fact ordered by the Azerbaijan authorities for political reasons. Over the last three years, he has used his poems and satirical articles to sharply criticise corrupt senior officials. The authorities planned his arrest and had him followed since last week. Sakit Zahidov revealed his fears to the press a week before his arrest. We, members of the Forum, call on the Azerbaijan authorities to release Sakit Zahidov and to put a stop to violence against journalists. We call on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to do its utmost to secure his release and to put pressure on the authorities in Azerbaijan to apply international law protecting press freedom. First signatories :
-  Novella Jafarova, chairwoman of the D. Aliyeva Centre for the Defence of Women’s Rights
-  Saadyat Byanyanyarly, chairwoman of the national bureau of the International Committee for the Defence of Human Rights
-  Sakhib Mamedov, chairman of the Work Defence League
-  Avaz Gasanov, chairman of the Centre for Research into Social Sciences
-  Sayda Gojamanly, chairwoman of the Bureau for the Defence of Human Rights
-  Irada Dvhavadova, chairwoman of the Information Centre on Human Rights
-  Ganimat Zahidov, editor in chief of the newspaper Azadlig
-  Yadigyar Mamedly, chairman of the League of Democratic Journalists
-  Rovshan Gajibeyli, editor of the newspaper Azadlig
-  Shakhbaz Khuduoglu, editor in chief of the magazine Ganun (Zakon)
-  Fikriyat Faramazoglu, editor in chief of the newspaper 24 Saat (24 Chasa)
-  Mekhman Muradly, independent jurist
-  Idrak Abbasov, executive director of the Institute for the Freedom and Independence of Reporters
-  Panakh Guseyn, Azerbaijan member of parliament
-  Aziyar Khasrat, chairman of the Asiatic and South Caucasus Network for Freedom of Expression
-  Ali Abbasov, editor in chief of the magazine Azerbaijan v Mire
-  Ilgar Ibragimoglu, chairman of the Centre for Freedom of Thought and Belief
-  Emin Guseynov, Sakit Zahidov’s Defence Committee
-  Mekhman Aliyev, Director of the Turan news agency




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