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Press Freedom In Azerbaijan 'Deteriorating'

Protests following 'Azadliq' eviction on November 25 (RFE/RL) December 5, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Reporters Without Borders has denounced what it describes as the "recent deterioration of press freedom" in Azerbaijan.

In an open letter to President Ilham Aliyev, the Paris-based media rights group criticized the evictions last month of three media outlets -- the independent Turan news agency, and the opposition "Azadliq" and "Bizim Yol" newspapers -- from their Baku offices.

The group also criticized the authorities' October decision to revoke the license of the independent television station ANS, which was retransmitting BBC, RFE/RL, and Voice of America broadcasts.

The letter says such acts show that Azerbaijani "authorities are taking a harder line on free expression and press freedom." It also said that the "independent, opposition and, foreign media are being systematically targeted."

It calls on Aliyev to "intervene to ensure that press freedom is respected in Azerbaijan," and warns that any restrictions could affect the 2008 presidential election.