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OSCE Condemns Attack On Azerbaijani Journalist

Journalist Seymur Haziyev
Europe's main security and rights body has condemned a recent assault on an Azerbaijani newspaper columnist and called on the government in Baku to curtail violence against journalists.

Dunja Mijatovic, the media freedom representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), described the weekend attack on Seymur Haziyev as "inadmissible."

Seymur Haziyev, a youth activist and columnist for the opposition "Azadliq" newspaper, told RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service that he was abducted in a village near Baku as he was returning home from work just after midnight on March 26.

Haziyev linked the assault to articles he has written in "Azadliq" that are critical of the administration, and to his ties with youth activists. He said he has been threatened and beaten several times in recent years because of his articles criticizing President Ilham Aliyev's domestic and foreign policies.

In her statement, Mijatovic urged public condemnation of such attacks and prosecution by Azerbaijani authorities of those responsible.

"This new attack on an independent media outlet is inadmissible and the Azerbaijani authorities must condemn it publicly. They must also do their utmost so that the perpetrators and masterminds of this and previous cases of violence against journalists -- including the 2005 murder of newspaper editor Elmar Huseynov -- are brought to justice."

Huseynov, editor in chief of the now-defunct opposition magazine "Monitor," was gunned down outside his apartment in March 2005. Rights groups have linked his killing, which remains unsolved, to his journalistic activities.