The New York based Commitee to Protect Journalists says Azerbaijan "continues to stifle critical voices, target free expression on the Web, and sentence reporters to lengthy prison terms."
According to CPJ"s Attacks on the Press, 2014, "As Azerbaijan prepared to assume the 2014 chairmanship of the Council of Europe—the largest European intergovernmental human rights and democracy organization—the authoritarian regime of President Ilham Aliyev shamelessly trampled on press freedom at home."
The authorities continued to stifle
critical voices, target free expression on the Web, and sentence reporters to lengthy prison terms
. A local journalist was barred from leaving the country
to pick up his journalism prize in Norway, while dozens of foreign media personnel were declared persona non grata
in Azerbaijan. The harassment
, including by thegovernment-affiliated press
, of investigative
journalist Khadija Ismailova went unpunished. Aliyev extended criminal defamation
laws to the Internet andtightened funding restrictions
for domestic NGOs, including press freedom organizations, despite a domestic and international outcry
In June, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso offered Aliyev public support
instead of holding the leader responsible for human rights and press freedom violations in his country. In October, the authoritarian leader was re-elected to his third term after the Central Elections Commission denied registration
to opposition candidate
Azerbaijan continues to censor critical journalists and editors by fabricating charges against them and sentencing them to lengthy jail terms. According to CPJ's annual prison census, conducted on December 1, 2013, at least eight journalists were being held in retaliation for their reporting.
Editor of the independent daily Khural, was given a nine-year jail term in March on fabricated extortion charges.|
Editor of the religious news website Xeber44, was given an eight-year jail term in April for inciting ethnic and religious hatred with his coverage of Muslim activities. Guliyev was initially arrested on hooliganism charges.|
A columnist for the leading opposition daily Yeni Musavat, spent 11 months in pretrial detention after being charged with organizing mass disorder.|
Editor of the minority newspaper Talyshi Sado (Voice of the Talysh), was given a five-year jail term in September on charges of treason, incitement to hatred, and illegal sale of drugs. He was first arrested in June 2012.|
Azerbaijan -- Editor and journalist Hilal Mammadov, Tolishi Sada newspaper, Baku, 22Jun2012
In late April, Radio Azadlyg, the Azerbaijani service of the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reported that the authorities had jammed their programming. RFE/RL said
that its satellite signals had been interrupted "with jittery images, distorted sound, and static." Authorities have a history of interfering with RFE/RL broadcasts around the region.
Articles 147 and 148 of Azerbaijan's criminal code were amended in May by Parliament to extend to the Internet punishment for slander and insult. President Aliyev signed the law in early June, Reuters reported
Those convicted of slander could be sentenced to a fine of up to 500 Azeri manat (US$637); corrective labor of up to one year; or jail time of up to three years,
Those convicted of insult charges face a fine of up to 1,000 Azeri manat (US$1275), one year of corrective labor, or imprisonment of up to six months