Azerbaijani Chief Editor of News Website Sentenced to Seven Years on Extortion Charges

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Year 22 Jun 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner CPJ , Index Alert level Level 1
22 Jun 2017 Azerbaijan B. Detention and imprisonment of journalists State CPJ , Index Level 1
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Fikret Faramazoglu, chief editor of the news website Journalistic Research Center, was sentenced on June 14, 2017 to seven years in prison on extortion charges. The judge also ruled to ban Faramazoglu from working as a journalist for two years after serving his prison term. Faramazoglu and his lawyer told the court the journalist was severely beaten in detention and lost several teeth as a result. Faramazoglu was first detained on June 30, 2016 for allegedly receiving a large amount of money from a restaurant owner whom authorities claimed the journalist extorted. The journalist and his lawyer say the money was planted in his pocket. Faramazoglu also told the court he and his family were on a trip when the first incident of alleged extortion took place and requested that he be allowed to call witnesses. The judge denied his request. The judge also dismissed Faramazoglu's request for authorities to investigate the beating, according to reports. The journalist's lawyer, Elchin Sadygov, told CPJ that the arrest came soon after Faramazoglu reported that restaurants were allegedly operating as brothels under the protection of law-enforcement agencies. Sadygov told media following the Baku court's verdict that he thinks the case was retaliation for Faramazoglu's reporting. Sadygov said Faramazoglu will appeal the verdict. In 2006 Faramazoglu, then chief editor of the Baku-based opposition weekly 24 Saat, was found guilty of libel and sentenced to a one-year suspended prison term, which was considered by media freedom organisations as a retaliation for his articles on alleged corruption in Azerbaijani law enforcement.

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