Azeri journalist on trial for Hitler translation

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BAKU, Nov 9 (Reuters) A journalist went on trial in Azerbaijan today charged with inciting nationalist and racist hatred after translating Adolf Hitler's book ''Mein Kampf'', into Azeri, his lawyer said.

The journalist, Avyaz Zeinally, was warned last May not to distribute the privately published book after 12 copies were confiscated by the Ministry for National Security (MNB).

Zeinally, editor-in-chief of independent newspaper Zhural had previously told Reuters he intended to publish the book, which translates into English as ''My Struggle'' in 2005, because he considered it worthy of attention.

At the time, the MNB stated that publication was no crime.

''There is no criminal activity in this case, and so the case should be closed,'' his lawyer Rashid Gadzhilim after proceeding's opened in a Baku regional court against Zeinally.

In some countries Hitler's 1925 semi-autobiographical manifesto setting out his racist national socialist ideology is banned.

In other countries the book, written before Hitler came to power in 1933, is protected by laws guaranteeing press freedom.

Azerbaijan's government has rejected accusations from the West it is preventing free speech or engaging in censorship.

So far during 2007 seven journalists have been imprisoned in the former Soviet republic bordering the Caspian Sea.

REUTERS RKM RAI1705

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