Azerbaijan, Baku / corr Trend I.Alizade /The newspapers and articles published in Azerbaijan testify to the presence of freedom of speech and press; there is a democratic society in Azerbaijan and the Government does not make any attack on the free press, said MP Rabiyyat Aslanova, the Chairman of the Permanent Parliamentary Commission on Human Rights of the Milli Majlis [Parliament], in an interview with Trend.
"The freedom of press has been fully supported in Azerbaijan. There is no obstacle in the way of the publication of any newspaper. Similarly, no attacks are made on journalists involved in the opposition newspapers, and they can write everything they desire. Though these publications have enough materials slandering character and not reflecting the truth, we regard them patiently," the chairman said.
On 11 November, the Yasamal District Court in Baku sentenced Ganimat Zahid, editor-in-chief of the Azerbaijani newspaper Azadliq, to a 2-month prison term for hooliganism and assault charges. His lawyers have appealed the decision.
Zahidov has said that during his incarceration, they have treated him with dignity and he did not have any complaints with respect to his conditions.
International law-defense organizations have also condemned Zahid's conviction, regarding it as a pressure on freedom of speech.
The US State Department considered this arrest an alarming pattern of deliberate pressure against the independent and pro-opposition media. Anna Derse, the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, voiced her concerns on the conviction of the editor-in-chief of Azadliq.