Azerbaijan, Baku /corr. Trend K.Ramazanova / The US Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Anne E. Derse, said on 12 November that the US Embassy in Azerbaijan is concerned of the arrest of the editor-in-chief of the opposition Azadlyg newspaper, Ganimat Zahid.
"In the recent months, an expression has been appeared in Azerbaijan that a campaign is held against the opposition journalists," the Ambassador said.
In the evening of 11 November, Zahid was called to Yasamal District Court in Baku and was detained as a suspected person. He was accused of hooliganism and assault charges. Zahid is currently being held in a preliminary detention cell. On 12 November, Yasamal District Court sentenced him to two months in prison. Currently eight journalists in Azerbaijan are under arrest.
She stressed that free press is an important factor for democracy. "The campaign against the press may adversely affect democratic development," Derse said.
According to him, Azerbaijan may become a strong and independent State if it has democratic institutions. As part of such institutions, she highlighted the independent and free press and legislation respecting human rights and freedom of expression.
Commenting on Ganimat Zahid's arrest, Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry's Press Secretary, Khazar Ibrahim, said on 12 November that "we understand that each court proceeding with regards to the journalists in Azerbaijan causes considerable reaction of the international organizations and several countries, but the journalists should also answer for their actions within the law".