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Azerbaijan Correspondent Threatened with Slander

Ilqar Nasibov, Correspondent, RFE/RL Azerbaijan Service, Nakhichevan, Jan 2008

Ilqar Nasibov, Correspondent, RFE/RL Azerbaijan Service, Nakhichevan, Jan 2008

Malahat Nasibova and Ilgar Nasibov, reporters for RFE/RL's Azerbaijan service, were summoned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in Nakhichevan, an exclave of Azerbaijan, on December 28 and told to sign a statement regarding an incident they reported on December 15. They were released two hours later. The Nasibovs had also been summoned to the Ministry on December 23 to discuss the case, and had been told that they would be accused of slander if they didn’t withdraw their complaint.

Nasibov had been attacked and injured on December 15 while he and members of a local NGO were conducting a survey on corruption at a local university. Nasibov sought to file a complaint at the Ministry, but officials refused to register it; local hospitals refused Nasibov medical care. On December 18, the Nasibovs were summoned to the Ministry and first questioned about the incident. That same day, the Ministry issued a statement accusing Nasibov of lying about the attack and, together with his wife, working for foreign powers betraying the motherland.

Nasibov's wife, Malahat, is a recent recipient of Norway's prestigious Rafto Prize who was recognized for her reporting on human rights and abuses of power in her native Nakhichevan. In announcing the award in September, the Rafto committee called her "the journalist who won't be silenced" and described her as "a kind of ombudsperson whom the local population turn to, to be heard."

Both she and her husband have been harassed, beaten and detained on several occasions. Ilgar Nasibov was arrested for his journalism in 2007 and currently has a case pending with the European Court of Human Rights.