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Azerbaijan10 April 2008

Journalist hounded by official investigators

Reporters Without Borders today strongly condemned the harassment of journalist Agil Khalil and attempts to intimidate him during an investigation by legal officials and called for a serious enquiry into an 13 March physical attack on him.

The public prosecutor of the Kyurdamir region summoned him for questioning on 3 April and in his office he and an investigator twisted his arm and confiscated his mobile phone. Khalil told the daily paper Azadlig he had been subjected to psychological and physical pressure to make him say he knew a man called Sergei who had attacked him in March.

He was summoned by police investigators the next day in Baku where he was taken aside and physically attacked. He was “treated like a criminal” and only able to talk to his lawyer after repeated requests, he said.

“The authorities are trying to discredit him and show he was not assaulted because of his work as a journalist,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “The real authors of the attack on him must be found and punished.”

Khalil said the investigation was trumped up and Sergei’s statements were contradictory. Sergei said he had stabbed the journalist several times but official experts said he had only been stabbed once. He also said he had called the journalist at his two mobile phone numbers but Khalil has only one number.

Khalil said he had probably been attacked because of articles he wrote criticising local politicians.

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