Azeri court jails journalists for 3 months on slander charge
An Azeri court of appeal confirmed a previous decision to sentence two journalists to three months in jail for slandering a high-ranking official.
An Azeri court of appeal confirmed on Friday a previous decision to sentence two journalists to three months in jail for slandering a high-ranking official, a local NGO said.
Sardar Alibeili, an editor at the daily Nota newspaper and Faramaz Allakhverdiyev, one of its reporters, were arrested earlier this year and convicted for publishing articles linking the head of a pro-governmental civil organisation to the country's security services.
"This verdict is unfair and is a serious step aimed at intimidating journalists who publish critical articles," Khalid Agaliyev, programme coordinator from Azerbaijan's Media Protection Institute, told Reuters.
"Their arrest casts a shadow on Azerbaijan's international obligations to provide freedom of the press," he added.
The European Union and rights groups often express their concerns over curbs on freedom of speech in the tightly-run former Soviet republic, a supplier of oil and gas to the West in the strategically important South Caucasus.
Two opposition bloggers currently stand trial in Azerbaijan. Their arrest came shortly after one of them posted his latest tongue-in-cheek swipe at authorities under President Ilham Aliyev.
A reporter from a local newspaper was sentenced to six years in jail earlier this year for taking a bribe from a senior official in a government ministry.
Reuters Last Mod: 10 Ekim 2009, 12:28