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Azerbaijan 9 May 2008

Another attempt to murder opposition journalist Agil Khalil

Reporters Without Borders condemns two physical attacks on reporter Agil Khalil of the opposition daily Azadlig on 7 May. Someone tried to push him under an underground train, then two men grabbed him near the newspaper’s office. This was the third time he has been the target of violence since late February.

“These repeated attacks on Khalil are unacceptable,” the press freedom organisation said. “His assailants are clearly trying to use physical elimination to silence him. The authorities should react and put a stop to this violence, so that he can do his job as a journalist in complete safety.”

Khalil said that, when he left his home to go to Azadlig, he was followed by a young man who appeared to be using his phone to report the route Khalil took. At the “28 May” underground railway station, someone pushed him as a train was approaching, but he managed to avoid falling off the platform.

He told Reporters Without Borders that, when he left the newspaper’s headquarters later the same day, two men grabbed his arms and twisted them but he managed to break loose and get away. He said he thought they were trying to kidnap him.

Khalil said he has told the authorities several times that he has been followed and threatened but they have not reacted. “It is clear that the prosecutor’s office and the national security ministry are protecting their employees and are going to continue harassing me,” he said.

National security ministry officials attacked him on 22 February when they spotted him photographing them in the course of an illegal land transaction. After his photos were published, he was stabbed in the chest on 13 March and had to undergo an operation. A few days later, investigators began pressuring him to accuse fellow journalists of the stabbing and to say the attacks were linked to his homosexuality.

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