July 21, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Imprisoned journalist will not be freed regardless of outcome of Azerbaijan’s appeal

Azerbaijan’s representative to the European Court of Human Rights, Chingiz Askerov, has told the BBC that the reason his government appealed against the court’s 22 April ruling, calling for the release of imprisoned journalist Eynulla Fatullayev, was that it was “contrary to international norms.” Even if the court’s Grand Chamber upholds the original decision, Fatullayev will not be released without a favourable ruling from Azerbaijan’s supreme court, Askerov added. As regards the European Court’s call for Fatullayev to be paid 25,000 euros in compensation for being illegally detained, Askerov said the money has not been paid because Azerbaijan has appealed against the decision, and the ruling will no longer be valid if the Grand Chamber rules in favour of the appeal. Reporters Without Borders is outraged by the Azerbaijani government’s persistence in persecuting Fatullayev, who has been held on spurious charges since 2007. The refusal to release him shows what little heed the authorities pay to press freedom and the decisions of international bodies such as the European Court. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 16 july 2010 Government appeals against European Court ruling ordering journalist’s release Azerbaijan’s representative to the European Court of Human Rights has announced that his government appealed yesterday against a ruling issued by the court in April ordering Azerbaijan to free Eynulla Fatullayev, an opposition newspaper editor who has been held since 20 April 2007. Reporters Without Borders is concerned about what will happen to Fatullayev and regards this announcement as further confirmation of Azerbaijan’s total disregard of the European Court and press freedom. In a ruling issued on 22 April, the European Court not only ordered Azerbaijan to free Fatullayev at once but also to pay him 25,000 euros in compensation. The ruling was completely ignored by a court in the Baku district of Garadag on 6 July, when it imposed an additional 30-month jail sentence on Fatullayev on a trumped-up charge of possession of heroin. The judge also ruled that the sentence would be counted from the day of the sentencing rather that the day in December when Fatullayev was moved from his regular cell to pre-trial detention after the drug was allegedly discovered in his clothes. This had the effect of adding another six months to the sentence. Azerbaijan’s appeal will be examined by the Grand Chamber of the European Court. Fatullayev’s lawyers hope that the Grand Chamber will quickly uphold the original decision ordering his release. But would that have any effect after all the efforts undertaken by the Azerbaijani authorities to keep him in prison? ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6 July 2010 Journalist’s additional 30-month jail sentence is unfair and politically-motivated Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the additional 30-month jail sentence that a court in the Baku district of Garadag imposed today on Eynulla Fatullayev, an opposition newspaper editor who has been detained since 20 April 2007. The court convicted him of illegal possession of a narcotic – 220 mg of heroin allegedly found in his clothes during a search of his cell in Prison No. 12 on 29 December. “We strongly condemn the imposition of an additional sentence on this journalist,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We regard it as politically motivated and as yet further evidence of the government’s determination to silence its critics. It shows the contempt with which the authorities regard the European Court of Human Rights, which called for his release in a 22 April ruling.” The press freedom organisation added: “We point out that this conviction comes just days after a visit by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who expressed concern about two imprisoned bloggers, Adnan Hadjizade and Emin Mili. Like Fatullayev, they were also jailed on trumped-up charges.” Reporters Without Borders is also astonished that the judge ruled that that Fatullayev’s new jail sentence should take effect from today rather than from 31 December, the day he was transferred to Prison No. 12 and placed in pre-trial isolation. Fatullayev described his latest conviction as a flagrant example of the lack of justice in Azerbaijan and of how “under criminal and authoritarian regimes, the journalist’s best reward is the sentence he receives.” His father, Emin Fatullayev, said the sentence was imposed in response to “a political order from the president’s office.” A respected journalist recognised as a political prisoner by the international community, Fatullayev was the editor of two newspapers which have been closed down, the weekly Realny Azerbaijan and the daily Gundelik Azerbaijan. Following his arrest in 2007, he was convicted the following year on charges of “insulting the honour and dignity of the Azerbaijani people,” refusing to pay taxes and making “terrorist threats” in an article that accused the Azerbaijani armed forces of sharing responsibility with their Armenian counterparts for the deaths of hundreds of civilians during an attack by Armenian troops in 1992 on the village of Khojali in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Both Azerbaijan and Armenia claim sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh. Although a ceasefire has been observed since 1994, no agreement has ever been signed between the two governments.