January 31, 2007 -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has voiced concern over the imprisonment of two journalists in Azerbaijan this week.
On January 30, a Baku court sentenced Faramaz Novruzoglu, a reporter from the "Nota Bene" newspaper, to two years in prison for slandering the country's interior minister and another senior official.
Sardar Alibeyli, the newspaper's editor in chief, received a suspended sentence of 1 1/2 years.
Novruzoglu had published an article criticizing Interior Minister Colonel General Ramil Usubov of damaging the reputation of the police force.
The OSCE criticized the sentences as another blow to media freedom.
Robin Seaword, acting head of the OSCE office in Baku, said unless the country's libel law was changed journalists will in Azerbaijan continue to be threatened with prison which will prevent them from reporting critically on matters of public concern.
(with material from AP)