TODAY.AZ / Politics

U.S. complains about Azerbaijani moves against independent news media

30 November 2006 [11:48] - TODAY.AZ
The United States urged the Azerbaijani government on Wednesday to "honor its commitment to democracy and freedom of the press" by reversing the recent moves against independent media outlets.

The special statement by Tom Casey, State Department deputy spokesman, constituted rare U.S. criticism of the former Soviet republic by the Bush administration, which has nurtured a budding friendship. In April, President George W. Bush had Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliyev, for a White House visit.

Without mentioning Aliyev, Casey's statement said the Azerbaijani government "is seriously impeding the ability of independent journalists to work in Azerbaijan." It ordered independent radio and television station ANS to stop transmitting and evicted the independent newspaper Azadliq and the Turan news service from their shared offices.

"The United States closely monitors media freedoms and the human rights situation in Azerbaijan," Casey said. "We call on the government of Azerbaijan to honor its commitment to democracy and freedom of the press by allowing all three media outlets to continue operations while negotiations on regulatory and licensing compliance are resolved in a manner that upholds the rule of law."

In Baku, Aliyev denied that he was suppressing the news media but said opposition politicians were making unwarranted accusations against him.

The state Economic Court evicted the newspaper after the government demanded thousands of dollars (euros) in back rent. The National Broadcasting Council refused to extend the license of ANS. Both actions occurred Friday. The Associated Press

/The International Herald Tribune/


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