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European Broadcasters Call For Media Freedoms

Journalist Eynulla Fatullayev in court
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.