OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media Calls on Azerbaijani Authorities to Release 2 journalists Imprisoned for Criticizing Islam
Azerbaijan, Baku / corr Trend A.Gasimova / The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, stated his deep concern at the harsh prison sentence that were imposed to two Azerbaijani journalists from the monthly newspaper Senet.
On 4 May, Rafiq Tagi, a Senet journalist, and Samir Sadagatoglu, the newspaper's editor, were sentenced to three and four years' imprisonment respectively, for "incitement to national, racial and religious hatred" allegedly contained in an article published in November 2006. The philosophical article discussed European and Islamic values.
"This is a serious violation of Azerbaijan's OSCE commitments to guarantee free information and freedom of expression," said Haraszti. "I request that the authorities free Sadagatoglu and Tagi."
"The trial perverts the truth by treating peaceful philosophers as extremists. In fact, it is their imprisonment that encourages extremism by surrendering to opponents of freedom of discussion."
Haraszti warned that treating journalists as criminals could unleash violence against media professionals and calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to release Sadagatoglu and Tagi.