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Cablegate: Imprisoned Newspaper Editor Faces Additional

VZCZCXYZ0039
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEKB #0904 1990900
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 180900Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAKU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIRITY 3508
INFO RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE PRIORITY 0622

UNCLAS BAKU 000904

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KDEM KISL OSAC IR AJ
SUBJECT: IMPRISONED NEWSPAPER EDITOR FACES ADDITIONAL
CHARGES

REF: BAKU 186

NEW CHARGES AGAINST IMPRISONED EDITOR
-------------------------------------

1. (SBU) On July 4, the Ministry of National Security (MNS)
brought two new criminal charges against imprisoned
journalist Eynulla Fatullayev for a Realny Azerbaijan article
titled, "The Aliyevs Go to War." The MNS charged Fatullayev
with inciting national, ethnic, and religious hatred (article
214.1 of the Criminal Code) and threatening terrorism
(article 283.2.2 of the Criminal Code). (NOTE: Fatullayev
was sentenced in April on libel charges, reftel. Fatullayev
was the editor of the Russian-language weekly Realny
Azerbaijan and the Azeri-language daily Gundalik Azerbaijan.
Local authorities evicted the staff of both newspapers on May
21, saying their office violated local safety regulations.
Authorities also seized computers from the premises, which
have been sealed. END NOTE.) According to press, the MNS
also interrogated three Gundalik Azerbaijan editors about the
newspaper's financing, sales, and relationship to Realny
Azerbaijan. Fatullayev is still being held in pre-trial
detention at a MNS isolation facility, where he is refusing
to answer questions about these latest charges, according to
his lawyer Isakhan Ashurov.

2. (SBU) The Realny Azerbaijan article that prompted the
latest charges was published in March by local journalist
Rovshan Bagirov. The article listed facilities in Azerbaijan
that Iran might attack if Azerbaijan supported U.S. military
action in Iran. The article also criticized the GOAJ for its
support of UNSCR 1747, arguing that Azerbaijan's backing
raised the risk of Iranian retaliation.

REACTION TO THE NEW CHARGES
---------------------------

3. (SBU) While MNS spokesperson Arif Babayev confirmed the
two charges on July 4, the MNS has failed to explain how the
article amounted to terrorism or fostering national, ethnic,
or religious hatred. Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov has
given the clearest available GOAJ account of the charges to
date, stating on May 31 that Realny Azerbaijan's website
listed the addresses of state establishments and reported
that these establishments would be attacked by Iran.
4. (SBU) Acting editor Realny Azerbaijan Chingiz Sultansoy
reported that newspaper employees were baffled by the new
charges. "We are journalists, we are peaceful people. The
editors and journalists cannot understand: what kind of
terrorist threat journalists pose?" Sultansoy said.
Opposition leaders called the prosecution part of a
government campaign to silence critical media.

COMMENT
-------

5. (SBU) This latest round of charges against Fatullayev is
part of a broader pattern of GOAJ steps to intimidate or
harass journalists. We are continuing to engage with the
GOAJ at the highest levels regarding this broader pattern.
We hope that an upcoming DVC between A/S DRL Lowenkron and
Foreign Minister Mammadyarov will be another occasion for
raising our concerns in this regard.
DERSE

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