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LOCAL > Azerbaijani journalist for Today’s Zaman leaves Turkey 'under deportation threat'

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Mahir Zeynalov has been married to a Turkish woman for 15 months and would be eligible for Turkish nationality in three years, Today's Zaman said.

Mahir Zeynalov has been married to a Turkish woman for 15 months and would be eligible for Turkish nationality in three years, Today's Zaman said.

Azerbaijani journalist Mahir Zeynalov, reporting for the English-language daily Today’s Zaman, has left Turkey after amid reports of a government decision to deport him.

Zeynalov chose to return to Azerbaijan due to his family’s concerns, but plans to relocate to a third country after returning home, Today's Zaman said.

The daily claimed that the decision for Zeynalov’s deportation resulted from an application by the Prime Ministry’s Coordination Center (BİMER), following comments on his Twitter account that were critical of the Turkish government and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. 

A criminal complaint was filed by Erdoğan against Zeynalov for tweets posted on Dec. 25 regarding the massive graft scandal that has gripped the country. 

Zeynalov has been put on a list of foreign individuals who are barred from entering Turkey under Law No. 5683, for “posting tweets against high-level state officials,” after he was identified as the owner of the Twitter account by the Turkish intelligence organization. 

Zeynalov was also accused of “trying to portray Erdoğan as protecting al-Qaeda members” in a tweet regarding an operation targeting al-Qaeda last month, the daily said.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said today that Zeynalov's deportation "is a further setback for the dire state of media freedom in Turkey." "Freedom of expression does not stop at statements deemed proper by those in power, and limiting this right will further tighten the control of media," the body's media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic said.

He will continue tweeting anyway: CHP head

Main opposition Republican People’s Party head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also criticized the government over Zeynalov’s deportation. “Will he stop tweeting after he will be gone? Yes he will,” Kılıçdaroğlu said urging Erdoğan to show commitment for individual rights. 

“The problem should be solved first in the mentalities. The prime minister should say that he is on the side of freedoms. This can’t be done by tailing himself a media army,” he said.


Today’s Zaman said Zeynalov has a residence and work permit that is valid until March 10, 2014. It added that he has been married to a Turkish woman for 15 months and would be eligible for Turkish nationality in three years.

February/07/2014

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