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Journalist Eynulla Fatullayev (left) and his lawyer Isakhan Ashurov
A jailed Azerbaijani journalist says he will go on hunger strike to demand authorities comply with a ruling by the European Court for Human Rights to release him from jail, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Eynulla Fatullayev, editor in chief of the newspaper "Realny Azerbaijan," made the announcement today in Baku's Garadag district court, where he is currently on trial on drugs charges.

Fatullayev was jailed for 8 1/2 years in 2007 for terrorism, inciting interethnic hatred, and tax evasion. He was also found guilty at a separate
trial earlier the same year of "giving wrong information" about the killings of Azerbaijani civilians in 1992 in the village of Khojaly during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

On April 22, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg said Azerbaijan had violated Fatullayev's rights to freedom of expression and a fair trial and called on Baku to release him.

In late December 2009, prison guards at the labor camp where Fatullayev is serving his prison term found 0.22 grams of heroin in his pockets and shoes. Fatullayev says the drugs were planted by camp guards.
Nikol Pashinian
Armenia's leading media associations have demanded the immediate release of a young reporter arrested while covering an opposition protest in Yerevan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Police allege that Ani Gevorgian, a 23-year-old correspondent for the pro-opposition daily "Haykakan Zhamanak," assaulted a police officer during a confrontation between security forces and opposition activists trying to enter Yerevan's Liberty Square on May 30.

Gevorgian was detained on May 31 during another confrontation between police and opposition supporters in the same area.

One of Gevorgian's lawyers, Lusine Sahakian, told RFE/RL's Armenian Service that she is accused of hitting a police officer in the face.

"Ani Gevorgian did not hit anyone," said Sahakian. "We think that she was deprived of her freedom because of her journalistic activities."

"Just how a 23-year-old woman could have used force against police officers remains unclear," six Armenian media groups said in a joint statement on June 1. They demanded the Armenian police immediately release Gevorgian and punish "the policemen who exceeded their legal powers."

The statement further condemned the brief detention of two other journalists during the May 31 incident when police used force against several dozen supporters of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK).

"Haykakan Zhamanak" denounced its reporter's prosecution as an act of "personal revenge" by the chief of Armenia's national police, Alik Sarkisian.

The newspaper's managing editor, Hayk Gevorgian, linked it to a recent article in which Gevorgian had ridiculed a promotional police video carried by Armenia's leading television stations.

"Ani found the clip was very ineptly duplicated from a similar video produced by the Georgian police, and that the whole purpose of the clip was to advertise Alik Sarkisian," the editor told a news conference.

"Haykakan Zhamanak," which is Armenia's best-selling daily newspaper, has long been at loggerheads with the authorities.

Its outspoken editor in chief, Nikol Pashinian, is currently serving a 3 1/2-year prison sentence for his alleged role in the 2008 postelection unrest in Yerevan. The HAK and local human rights organizations consider Pashinian a political prisoner.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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