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Azerbaijan: Committee To Protect Journalists Protests Censorship

Baku, Azerbaijan; 12 December 1996 (RFE/RL) - The New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists reportedly sent a letter to Azerbaijan's president protesting increasing reports of censorship and harassment of journalists in the former Soviet republic.

The Azerbaijani news agency Turan yesterday reported that the letter to President Geidar Aliyev criticized recent attempts to block critical news coverage of the country's Parliament.

Turan said Parliament Speaker Murtuz Aleskerov has stripped one Azerbaijani newspaper reporter of his accreditation and threatened to do the same to all journalists who criticize the parliament or its members. The agency also said the letter urged Aliyev to reinstate the accreditation of the reporter and "dismantle entirely the institution of censorship."

Aliev's government has taken a harsh stance on opposition, and international monitoring groups long have criticized the Caspian Sea republic's record on human rights and press freedom.

The Committee to Protect Journalists monitors press freedom abuses around the world and includes on its Board of Directors such influential journalists as CNN's Peter Arnett, "The Washington Post's" Katherine Graham and NBC's Tom Brokaw.