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Azerbaijan17 October 2003

One journalist missing, two others detained

Reporters Without Borders today voiced deep concern about the disappearance of Azer Garachenli, a correspondent for the weekly Avropa, following his arrest during clashes yesterday in Baku between police and demonstrators protesting about the preceding day’s presidential elections.

Although there is videotape of his being detained by masked members of the police special forces, the interior ministry has denied that he is being held. Reporters Without Borders called on the authorities to do everything possible to locate him at once.

Despite government assurances that calm has been restored, two more journalist were detained today and thousands of copies of opposition newspapers were seized. Reporters Without Borders therefore also urged the authorities to release the detained journalists and to condemn any obstruction to the free flow of information.

The two journalists detained today were Sayaf Gadoriv and Teymur Imanov of the opposition daily Yeni Musavat. They were picked up by police as they left the newspaper’s offices. Editor in chief Rauf Arifoglu was nearly arrested in the afternoon, but escaped in his car. The reason for these arrests was unknown.

Meanwhile, unidentified men in civilian dress today confiscated more than 20,000 copies of opposition newspapers from news stands in several cities. The targeted newspapers were Yeni Musavat, Azadliq, Hurriyet and Baki Habar. Copies were also taken from street vendors.

Aflatun Amashev, president of the Committee for Journalists’ Rights (RUH) said at a news conference today at the Baku Press Club that more than 70 journalists were the victims of violence on 15 and 16 October. He said 49 of them were injured and six had their cameras or video equipment smashed or confiscated. Among the injured journalists, there is continuing concern about the condition of Nabi Alishev of the daily Khurriyet and Emin Huseynov, a correspondent for the news agency Turan.




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