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OSCE Free Media Concerns


Hilal Mammadov, Editor of Talishi Sado newspaper in Azerbaijan, was arrested on dubious charges of narcotics possession and treason.

In particular, the United States is concerned about the harassment in Azerbaijan of Talysh-language newspaper editor Hilal Mammadov.

The United States calls on participating States of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, to live up to their OSCE commitments to protect media freedom and the safety of journalists. All reporters imprisoned for doing their jobs and bloggers detained for exercising their basic right to freedom of expression should be released, said U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Ian Kelly. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will speak to the importance of these commitments at the upcoming OSCE Ministerial in Dublin.



In particular, the United States is concerned about the harassment in Azerbaijan of Talysh-language newspaper editor Hilal Mammadov. He was arrested on dubious charges of narcotics possession and treason. Similarly, media activist Zaur Qurbanli was detained in Baku in September and held for two days without access to a lawyer and was later sentenced to 15 days in jail.

In Belarus, independent journalists continue to be subjected to harassment, intimidation, violence, and detention by authorities. Indeed, on September 19th, international wire service reporters covering a protest rally in Minsk were physically assaulted, detained for two hours without charge, and had their video and photo images erased.

In Kazakhstan, the Almaty Chief Prosecutor's office issued a disturbing petition November 21 asking the courts to ban at least 30 media outlets, including newspapers, television stations and Internet sites suspected of "extremism."

The United States is also concerned about reports that in September journalists in Tajikistan were assaulted by police and security personnel and prevented from taking pictures of a fire they were covering. The U.S. calls for a thorough investigation and actions to prosecute those responsible for the abuses.

In Russia, media freedom has suffered another blow with passage of the Russian law "On the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development." This law creates a national registry of websites with content related to child pornography, narcotics, and suicide, and allows authorities to close them down without a court order.

Each of these countries is a participating State in the OSCE and thus has committed to protect and promote the free flow of information. The United States calls on these governments to live up to their OSCE commitments.
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