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Journalist abducted and beaten in Azerbaijan

A particularly shocking attack was carried out last weekend on Seymour Khaziyev, a journalist with the opposition newspaper Azadlig, Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has reported.

Khaziyev was set upon by six masked men as he was returning to his home in Jeryanbatan on the outskirts of Baku on the night of March 26. Taken in a minibus to an unknown location with a sack over his head, he was then tortured for two hours. The two telephones he was carrying were confiscated and the contents of his laptop were examined. One of his attackers asked him to be as “intelligent and quiet as the others.”

A member of the opposition Popular Front party, Khaziyev is an established journalist who is often critical of the government.

This attack, the first of its kind on a journalist in Azerbaijan since 2008, is extremely worrying and suggests that the climate is becoming fraught again for media personnel. At a press organized on March 26 by the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, Azadlig editor Ganimat Zahid condemned the “barbarity and savagery” of the assault.

The head of the news agency Turan, Mehman Aliyev, linked the incident to the current social and political unrest in the country. “When a society wakes up, the first in the firing line are the journalists,” he said. Media freedom violations have been growing in the past several weeks as young people and opposition movements have been stepping up their activities.

The holding of pro-democracy demonstrations two weeks ago resulted in several arrests and physical attacks on bloggers and journalists. On March 18, Fakhraddin Hajibeyli, who was also working for Azadlig, was assaulted in Berlin in troubling circumstances.

Date posted: March 29, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 92