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Azerbaijan2 April 2007

Prison authorities deny ailing journalist Sakit Zahidov

Reporters Without Borders today called on the authorities to allow imprisoned journalist and writer Sakit Zahidov to receive the medical treatment he needs. When his wife, Rena Zahidova, visited him at N14 prison, 75 km from Baku, on 26 March, she found that his health had deteriorated and that he was suffering from stomach and heart pains.

“Zahidov has cardiac and gastric ailments and must be examined by a doctor,” Reporters Without Borders said. “He is serving a three-year sentence and the prison administration’s repeated refusal to hospitalize him or let him see a doctor is tantamount to mistreatment.”

Zahidov was charged with “possession of a large quantity of drugs for the purpose of resale” after police allegedly found 10 grammes of heroin in one of his pockets at the time of his arrest on 23 June 2006. Zahidov has always insisted the police planted the heroin. At his trial, the prosecution failed to produce any evidence, not even a positive urine test, that he took drugs. Nonetheless, he was sentenced to three years in prison on 4 October. The supreme court is to consider his appeal soon.

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