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OSCE media freedom representative calls on Azerbaijan to investigate attack against journalist

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, condemned today the stabbing of Agil Khalil, a reporter of the Azerbaijani opposition newspaper Azadliq, and urged the government to investigate. "I welcome the Presidential Administration’s pledge to bring the attackers to justice," Haraszti said. "Action is necessary not only for the sake of justice in this case but also in order to investigate whether the attack was part of a campaign against Azadliq, which is one of the few remaining independent newspapers in Azerbaijan."

Khalil remained in serious condition on Monday. He was stabbed in the back on Thursday as he was leaving the editorial offices of Azadliq.

"The recent imprisonment on various charges of Azadliq journalists Ganimat Zahidov and his brother Zahid Zahidov, has added to an atmosphere of intimidation as much as an earlier assault against Khalil."

Khalil was beaten by two men on 22 February while working. Suspects identified by him remain at large. "Lack of successful governmental investigation in cases of violence against journalists encourages the repetition of such crimes," Haraszti said. "The international community and journalists in Azerbaijan are still waiting for concrete results of the investigation of the 2005 murder of prominent journalist Elmar Huseynov, and of the numerous, so far unpunished, attacks against journalists that took place in recent years."

Haraszti said his Office was closely following the investigation into the attack on Khalil.

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