International organizations denounced Azerbaijan’s government for media repressions that have intensified following the reelection of President Iham Aliyev five weeks ago.
Since the election, which was widely considered to have been rigged, authorities have dismantled a non-governmental organization and cracked down on an opposition newspaper along with several bloggers and journalists, according to Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.
The chief editor of the independent, opposition newspaper _P.S. Nota_ is one of the targeted journalists. Sardar Alibeyli was sentenced to four years of prison after he was convicted of hooliganism. Alibeyli had been jailed in 2007 and in 2009, reported the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
In July, Alibeyli was detained after a local man told police that the journalist had attacked and beat him on the street. Alibeyli denied the allegations, and Amnesty International said the decision was “based on offenses fabricated by the prosecution.”
Alibeyli said his detention was motivated by an article he wrote in July, in which he denounced the "dire state of Azerbaijani media ... and named enemies of the Azerbaijani press — an organized group of people in power."
Five of the eight journalists currently imprisoned in Azerbaijan have been convicted on politically motivated charges, according to research by CPJ.
Press freedom organizations expressed concerns about the state of the press in Azerbaijan, as the country is about to assume the chairmanship of the Council of Europe.
"The Council of Europe should push members to improve their records on press freedom before they are allowed to assume the prestigious leadership position” in May, said Nina Ognianova, the CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator.
By Elian Peltier.