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Azerbaijan Reporter Threatened at Knifepoint

Journalist Aytan Mammadova (RFE/RL photo)

BAKU – A noted Azerbaijani journalist says she was attacked by an unknown man armed with a knife who threatened and intimidated her over her coverage of a high-profile murder trial.

Aytan Mammadova, who has worked as a freelancer for RFE/RL, said on May 9 that she had filed a complaint with the Baku city police over the attack, which took place late the previous night in the elevator of her apartment building.

"When the elevator doors shut, he grabbed my jaw with one hand and put a knife to my neck with the other hand. The knife went deep into the skin. He removed the knife, but then put it back to my neck again, leaving a cut mark," Mammadova said.

According to Mammadova, the attacker said to her, "You have not gotten wiser," started cursing her daughter, and warned her "not to write about the case."

When the elevator reached Mammadova's floor, she fled to her apartment while the man stayed inside and went back down to the ground floor.

Mammadova's husband tried to catch up with the attacker but could not find him.

Mammadova has been covering the ongoing trial of a man suspected of murdering a girl in 2019. The suspect on trial has insisted that police tortured him to force him to confess to the murder.

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly condemned the attack.

"I strongly condemn this unacceptable intimidation of our freelancer, which is clearly intended to deter her from pursuing an important story," Fly said in a statement.

"We call on the Azerbaijani authorities to investigate this attack and to protect journalists from harassment."

Azerbaijan ranked 154th out of 180 countries and territories rated in Reporters Without Borders' 2022 World Press Freedom Index.

RFE/RL is a network of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which also includes VOA.