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Azerbaijan 26 September 2007

Journalist sentenced to 15 days in prison as national security ministry steps up pressure on opposition media

Reporters Without Borders called today on the central government in Baku to order the release of Hakim Eldostu Mehdiyev, a reporter for the opposition newspaper Yeni Musavat in the autonomous republic of Nakhchivan, who was arrested on 23 September in the village de Jalilli and was sentenced the same day by a local court to 15 days in prison for resisting arrest.

“We also call on the national security ministry to put a stop to the harassment of Mehdiyev’s family,” the press freedom organisation said. The authorities have closed a café owned by his brother.

The day before his arrest, Mehdiyev was forced into a car by national security ministry agents and held all day in a ministry building where, according to Reporters Without Borders’ sources, he was beaten because of his reports about gas and electricity problems in the region.

After his release, he only had a few hours to warn his family and try unsuccessfully to see a doctor about his injuries before the court ordered his arrest the next day. The authorities have not yet appointed a lawyer to defend him and it is not known where he is currently being held. It is believed he has gone on hunger strike.

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Jusuf Ruzimuradov

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