Azerbaijan: Death Threats to Journalists

Washington

In response to death threats against two Azerbaijani journalists and their families, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The Azerbaijani government’s continuous harassment of independent media and unwillingness to investigate and prosecute those responsible for attacks on reporters perpetuates an atmosphere of impunity,” said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs. “Death threats to prominent journalists Sevinc Osmanqizi and Aynur Elgunesh should be publicly condemned by the government, investigated, and those behind them brought to justice.”

Background:

On October 4, 2016, independent Azerbaijani media Meydan TV’s journalist Sevinc Osmangizi, who is based in the United States, received phone calls with death threats to her and her family in retaliation for her work. On the same day, independent Baku-based journalist Aynur Elgunesh received multiple calls with death threats for her alleged cooperation with Meydan TV. Meydan TV was forced to close its Baku office in 2014 due to multiple threats. Over the past two years, the Azerbaijani government also placed travel bans on a number of Meydan TV reporters. In March 2016, the Azerbaijani government initiated a criminal case against Meydan TV that is currently ongoing.

Azerbaijan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2016, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2016, Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2015, and receives a democracy score of 6.86 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2016.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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