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U.S. Journalist, British Activist Assaulted In Azerbaijan

An American journalist and British human rights activist were reportedly attacked and beaten in Baku late on June 15, RFE's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Reports say four athletic young men followed journalist Amanda Erickson and
activist Celia Davies as they were walking to their apartments and then
attacked them near the National Drama Theater.

Davies reportedly has a broken arm from the assault.

The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that no personal items were taken from either woman.

The U.S Embassy in Baku said today it is aware of the crime and embassy
personnel are providing assistance to the victims. It said questions about the
investigation should be addressed to Azerbaijani police.

Amanda Erickson told RFE's Azerbaijani Service that she and Davies "think
there were no motives for us to be attacked." She said they did not want to
comment further on the issue.

Orkhan Mansurzadeh of the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry told RFE that the
issue needs to be investigated.

"It does not matter whether the victim is an Azerbaijani or a foreign citizen,"
he said. "Any crime victim should contact the police. The necessary measures
will be taken if they do so. The motive will become known during the

Erickson and Davies have been conducting training for local journalists and
civil society activists in Baku.

Erickson has published articles in "The Washington Post" and "The New York

She also recently published an article in the "Columbia Journalism Review"
about RFE Azerbaijani Service broadcast host Khadija Ismayilova.

"Ismayilova avoids satire, which is what landed the two bloggers [Adnan
Hajizada and Emin Milli] in jail," she wrote. "And she's one of the few popular female journalists in what is still a male-dominated profession."

Thomas O. Melia, the U.S. State Department's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, was wrapping up an official visit to Baku at the time of the attack. In his meetings with Azerbaijani officials, Melia discussed press freedom and specifically addressed a widely criticized ban, enacted by the government in 2009, that bars international media from broadcasting on FM.

Read more in Azerbaijani here:

compiled by RFE's Azerbaijani service and O wire.