December 29, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Supreme court rejects imprisoned journalist’s appeal

The supreme court yesterday rejected imprisoned newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev’s appeal against a 30-month jail sentence on a clearly trumped-up charge of illegal possession of heroin while in prison. Imposed on 6 July, the sentence was confirmed by a Baku appeal court on 5 November. The journalist’s lawyer, Elchin Sadigov, described yesterday’s ruling as political. He had requested Fatullayev’s immediate release, a retrial, and compliance with a European Court of Human Rights ruling requiring payment of compensation to Fatullayev for detaining him illegally since 2007. The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers had also urged the Azerbaijani authorities to comply with the European Court’s ruling and free Fatullayev. Sadigov said he has been the target of pressure to stop defending Fatullayev. The journalist’s father has meanwhile been denied the right to visit him for the past month. Yesterday’s decision constitutes a flagrant violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, which Azerbaijan signed. The government is yet again flouting its international legal obligations. Its obstinacy in keeping Fatullayev in jail in defiance of the European Court’s ruling testifies to its contempt for European institutions. Reporters Without Borders urges the government to stop persecuting the only journalist still detained in Azerbaijan and to finally respect its international obligations. The press freedom organization also calls on the Council of Europe to take a firmer stand in order to get the Azerbaijani authorities to free Fatullayev.