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Journalist Eynulla Fatullayev in court
European public service broadcasters today called on all governments to respect freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

They made that call in a declaration adopted at a General Assembly of the European Broadcasting Union, which was held in Azerbaijan.

The declaration goes on to condemn arrests, harassment, and intimidation of journalists, and also calls on governments to bring to justice those responsible for attacks on reporters.

It also raises EU concerns about various cases in Azerbaijan in which journalists and other individuals exercising their universal right of freedom of expression have been prosecuted on questionable grounds.

In April, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Azerbaijan should release journalist Eynulla Fatullayev from jail and pay him 25,000 euros in moral damages.

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.

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.
A Kyrgyz journalists' organization says several journalists were attacked while covering the ethnic violence in the southern cities of Jalal-Abad and Osh last month, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The Public Association of Journalists (PAJ) said that six journalists were attacked and beaten in Osh, another suffered severe burns, and photographer Pazyle Sarybaev is still missing. In addition, the homes of four journalists were damaged after they were set on fire.

It added that Osh-based Keremet TV cameraman Batyr Mamatjanov, who was seriously injured on June 11 when a crowd attacked his car and seized his camera, remains in critical condition in hospital with broken ribs and a head injury.

PAJ coordinator Meri Bekeshova told RFE/RL the association has given financial and technical help to the journalists who suffered attacks, with assistance from International Media Support, a Danish nonprofit organization.

At least 291 people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled their homes in the clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in Osh and Jalal-Abad that began on June 10.

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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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