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Azerbaijan 30 August 2007

Imprisoned journalist in critical condition, call for his release on medical grounds

Reporters Without Borders today drew the international community’s attention to the rapidly deteriorating condition of imprisoned journalist Faramaz Allahverdiyev. According to his wife, Tahira Allahverdiyeva, he is “close to death.” He has already undergone an operation and doctors say another one would not improve his condition.

A reporter with the independent daily Nota Bene, he has been in prison since 30 January, serving a two-year sentence for allegedly libelling interior minister Ramil Usubov in an article about his lack of political loyalty to former President Heydar Aliev.

“We are very worried about Allahverdiyev’s condition,” Reporters Without Borders said. “His life will be in danger if he is not freed quickly. The judicial authorities should grant him an immediate release on medical grounds. We also call on the prison authorities to allow Nota Bene’s founder, Ilham Tumas, and its editor, Sardar Alibeyli, to visit him.”

Allahverdiyev went on a hunger strike and sowed up his mouth in July, notifying the authorities in writing of his protest and calling on them to create an independent press council. He eventually called off the hunger strike at the prompting of his family and colleagues, who were concerned about his health.

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