News

March 14, 2018

Ukraine urged to free Dutch journalist of Azerbaijani origin

Fikret Huseynli's Facebook page
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) wrote to the Ukrainian prosecutor-general again today urging him to allow Fikret Huseynli, a Dutch journalist of Azerbaijani origin, to return to the Netherlands without delay. Huseynli has been unable to leave Ukraine for the past five months because of an unresolved extradition request by Azerbaijan.

Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko

Riznytska Street, 13/15, Kiev 01011, Ukraine


CC: President’s Office, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov


Paris, 14 March 2018


Dear Prosecutor-General Lutsenko,


Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international press freedom NGO, would like to refer you again to the fate of Fikret Huseynli, a Dutch journalist of Azerbaijani origin. Arrested in Kiev on 14 October 2017 as a result of an extradition request by Azerbaijan, he was released conditionally two weeks later but is still banned from leaving Ukraine pending your decision on the extradition request.


Well-known as a journalist in Azerbaijan, Mr. Huseynli fled in 2008 to the Netherlands, where he obtained political asylum and then, in 2014, Dutch citizenship. He now heads the Amsterdam bureau of Turan TV, an Azerbaijani TV channel run by Azerbaijani exiles that is critical of President Ilham Aliyev’s government. The accusations against him in his country of origin are just the continuation of the threats that he received in Azerbaijan in connection with his journalistic activities, forcing him to flee in 2008.


We ask you to lose no time in rejecting Azerbaijan’s request for Mr. Huseynli’s extradition. As the Netherlands granted him its protection and then gave him Dutch citizenship, sending him back to his country of origin would be illegal and would furthermore expose him to the worst possible reprisals. We urge you to return his passport to him and to allow him to return to the Netherlands in complete safety.


Finally, we also ask you to conduct a full and impartial enquiry into the violent attack that took place against Mr. Huseynli in Kiev on 5 March, which has increased our fears for his safety.


Azerbaijan is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.The Aliyev regime has done everything possible to crush media pluralism in recent years, throttling all of the most outspoken media outlets financially or closing them by force. At least 13 journalists and two bloggers are currently detained in connection with their reporting. It would be extremely shocking if Ukraine were to become an accomplice to this brutal repression.


We thank you in advance for the attention you give to our request.


Sincerely,

Antoine Bernard

Deputy Director-General

Reporters Without Borders