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Azerbaijani Media Campaigner Wins Prize In London

Rashid Hajili
Rashid Hajili
An Azerbaijani media rights activist has been awarded for his work by the London-based organization Index On Censorship, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Rashid Hajili, the chair of the Baku-based Media Rights Institute, was presented with the Bindmans Law and Campaigning Award on March 25.

The award is given to lawyers or rights activists who have fought repression or "struggled to change political climates and perceptions" in their countries.

John Kampfner, the CEO of the Index on Censorship, said at the ceremony in London that "Rashid Hajili's work as chair of the Media Rights Institute in Azerbaijan has been instrumental in protecting journalists and bloggers in a country with a deteriorating record on press freedom."

Hajili said he accepted the award on behalf of everyone who works for freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. He told RFE/RL the award was due to his campaign to "protect the public interest."

Hajili has drafted legislation to protect journalistic sources and broadcasting freedom. In December, he worked with the group Article 19 on a case in the European Court of Human Rights to decriminalize defamation.

Jailed bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were among those shortlisted for the Index on Censorship's New Media Award. Milli and Hajizade are serving prison terms on hooliganism charges that rights activists believe were fabricated in retaliation for their opposition activities and satire of government policies.