Azerbaijan16 January 2007
Appeal court frees website editor after two days
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, a political activist and editor of the website www.susmayaq.biz, was released yesterday after being held for just two days. The 12-day prison sentence he had received on 14 January was quashed by a Baku appeal court. His colleagues say the government had him in its sights ever since he posted an article criticising its economic policies.
Website editor gets 12-day prison sentence
Reporters Without Borders today condemned the 12-day prison sentence passed yesterday by a Baku court on Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, the editor of a news website that has been blocked by the authorities for the past several days for criticising the government’s economic policies.
“The arrest of an online journalist, like the censoring of his website, are very bad omens,” the press freedom organisation said. “We hope the deterioration in online free expression in Azerbaijan is just temporary and that the authorities are not going to adopt a more repressive Internet development model.”
About a dozen policemen arrested Hajiyev at his home on 13 January. His colleagues said his arrest was linked to an article on his website, www.susmayaq.biz, criticising increases in the price of energy and municipal services, which already led to the site being rendered inaccessible in Azerbaijan since 9 January.
Hajiyev is well known for criticising the government in his articles. One of his friends, Ramin Hajily, a political activist and former president of the Dalga Youth Movement, announced his intention to create a committee for the defence of Hajiyev’s rights.