JournalismPakistan.com June 13, 2012
BERLIN: An Azerbaijani journalist known for his reporting on politically sensitive issues was sentenced to two years in prison on June 11, 2012, on fabricated drug possession charges, Human Rights Watch said.
Human Rights Watch called for an independent review of the conviction of the journalist, Anar Bayramli, including a full investigation of evidence indicating he was framed by authorities in the police station where drugs were allegedly discovered in his possession.
The Binagadi District Court of Baku convicted Bayramli, a journalist for the Iranian satellite television station Sahar TV, on June 11 on charges of illegal drug possession. Bayramli, 31, has been in custody since February 17. His initial interrogation was conducted at 2am on February 18 without the presence of his lawyer, to which he was entitled under Azerbaijani law.
"We believe that this is yet another example of the abusive tactic Azerbaijani officials seem so fond of, fabricating evidence against critics to punish and silence them," said Giorgi Gogia, senior South Caucasus researcher at Human Rights Watch. "The case against Bayramli falls squarely into what is becoming a pattern of bringing bogus charges, and it sends a chilling message to journalists."
Sahar TV is affiliated with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (Iran's state television) and broadcasts programs in several languages, including Azeri and English. Bayramli worked on video reports about developments in Azerbaijan, such as the trials of Islamic party activists. Azerbaijan-Iran relations have deteriorated in recent months, with each side accusing the other of meddling in its internal affairs to provoke civil unrest.
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