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Press Statement
Tom Casey, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 1, 2007


Independent Azerbaijani Newspaper Editor Sentenced

We are concerned by the October 30 sentencing on terrorism charges of Eynulla Fatullayev, the editor-in-chief of independent newspaper Realny Azerbaijan. Mr. Fatullayev's newspapers routinely criticized government officials and publicized accusations of corruption. This sentence to eight and a half years in prison on charges of terrorism appears to be an attempt to silence criticism and stifle free speech.

A free press and active civil society are fundamental elements of any democracy and are essential to the protection of citzens’ basic rights. Prosecuting Mr. Fatullayev under anti-terrorism laws indicates a fear of the fundamental freedom of speech that is sharply at odds with the Government of Azerbaijan’s professed desire to develop democratic institutions. We call on the Government of Azerbaijan to respect fully the rights of a free press and to support the development of an independent media in Azerbaijan.

2007/957


Released on November 1, 2007

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