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Media Watchdog Calls On Azerbaijan To Stop Harassing Reporters

Reporters Without Borders called on Azerbaijan on December 5 to stop curtailing media freedom after what it said was the arrest and harassment of three journalists last week.

Authorities detained Afgan Sadykhov, editor of the website, on November 22 and charged him with "aggravated assault" after staging a violent confrontation between him and a woman, the Paris-based media freedom watchdog group said.

It said a similar pretext was used to arrest Teymur Kerimov, a journalist from the Kanal 13 website, on November 25 while he was reporting on water supply problems in a village for refugees from the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Zamin Gadji, an opposition journalist with the newspaper Yeni Musavat, was summoned to a Baku police station on November 28 over a Facebook post in which he condemned the government's failure to solve four prominent murders.

The police accused him of "casting doubt on the country's social and political stability" and asked him to delete the post, which he refused to do. He was eventually released a few hours later.

Rights groups say trumped-up assault charges are often used to imprison outspoken journalists in Azerbaijan.

"The Azerbaijani authorities are so confident that they do not even take the trouble to vary their harassment methods," said Johann Bihr of Reporters Without Borders.

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