Azerbaijan23 January 2008
Business reporter gets six years for allegedly taking bribe from ministry official
Reporters Without Borders condemns the sentence of six years in prison followed by a two-year ban on working as a journalist which a court passed on business reporter Mushfig Huseynov of the Bizim Yol daily newspaper on 21 January for allegedly taking a bribe from a government official. Huseynov has been detained since his arrest on 24 July.
“After an investigation conducted without any transparency by the national security agency, a court has imposed a disproportionate sentence that reflects the government desire to make an example of this case and to use it to discredit and further weaken the opposition press,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“The law is not applied in the same way to all journalists in Azerbaijan,” Reporters Without Borders added. “Normally, complaints about journalists are addressed to the Press Council but that was not done in this case. The authorities wanted to get rid of a journalist who had exposed several cases of corruption within the ministry of labour.”
Following his arrest on 24 July by national security officials, Huseynov was accused of corruption under article 331 (1) of the criminal code for allegedly taking a bribe of 3,500 dollars from Rizvan Aliyev, an employee of the ministry of labour and social security.
Bizim Yol editor Bahaddin Haziyev said Huseynov had written a series of articles criticising the ministry. His lawyer, Vugar Hasayev, insists that his client never took any money and that the investigation was not conducted in an impartial manner.