Heydar Aliyev Tree at Center of Journalist Detention
More details have surfaced about the alleged June 16 attack on an Azerbaijani journalist, Natiq Gulahmedoglu (Adilov). A Baku convenience shop-owner apparently punched and chased the journalist with a spade for plucking a leaf from a tree the storeowner had planted in honor of the late President Heydar Aliyev. Both men complained to the police.
The storeowner said of Gulahmedoglu, known for his criticism of the authorities: “I do not know what kind of journalist he is, but he does not look like a patriot to me.”
The whole incident may look trivial, but the fact that the police held Gulahmedoglu at the station quickly sparked fears among his colleagues that the authorities were looking for a way to punish a critical journalist. Brawls have led to other journalist arrests in Azerbaijan in the past.
Ganimat Zahid, Gulahmedoglu's editor at the pro-opposition Azadlig newspaper, is worried that the authorities may use the incident to punish Gulahmedoglu for his attacks on the Azerbaijani government’s poor democracy record. Zahid was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison following a similar incident.
Gulahmedoglu reportedly does not see a political motive for the attack, according to Kavkazsky Uzel.