International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today expressed its indignation at
the new jail sentence handed out to Eynulla Fatullayev, a newspaper editor already
imprisoned since 2007. Fatullayev was sentenced to two and a half years prison
on charges of drug possession after guards claimed to have found heroin in his
cell in December 2009.
sentence comes two months after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) condemned
his previous conviction for criminal defamation, making terrorist threats,
inciting inter-ethnic violence and tax evasion, as unsafe and demanded his
record of curbing free speech by jailing journalists and adopting restrictive
media laws is unacceptable," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "The
governments disdain for fair judicial process has been thoroughly exposed by
their rejection of the European Court's ruling and the reinforced punishment
Azerbaijani government's persecution of Fatullayev began shortly after March
2007 when he published ‘Lead and Roses', a report
on the killing of his colleague Elmar Huseynov
in which he alleged that the murder was ordered by high-ranking officials in
was the editor of two newspapers known for being critical of authorities, Realny Azerbaijan and Gundalik Azerbaijan.
2007 for criticising the authorities, Fatullayev was first sentenced to 36
months in prison for "criminal defamation" and "insult" and
then received a second jail sentence of eight-and-a-half years on charges of
making a terrorist threat, inciting inter-ethnic conflict and tax evasion.
charges followed an article that listed sites in Azerbaijan that could come
under attack from neighbouring Iran should the Azerbaijan government back any
US military assault on the Islamic republic. The tax evasion charge alleged that Fatullayev had concealed income from
his two publications.
On 22 April the ECHR ruled that article
10 (freedom of expression) and 6 (right to a fair trial and presumption of
innocence) of the European Convention on Human Rights had been breached. The
ECHR demanded Fatullayev's immediate release and compensation of 27,822 euros be
paid by the Azerbaijan government.
was announced days after IFJ representatives, Oliver Money-Kyrle and Adrien Collin, and the President of the Azerbaijan
Journalists Union, Mushfiq Alasgarli met with the political department of the
Presidential Administration to raise concerns over the government's treatment
of journalists and particularly the fate of Fatullayev.
reassurances about their commitment to independent journalism are meaningless
while Fatullayev remains in jail," said Money-Kyrle, IFJ Assistant General Secretary.
IFJ launched its Ethical Journalism Initiative programme for Azerbaijan to help
build a professional and independent journalists' community to improve
standards and reinforce journalists' rights.
mission also met with representatives from the Press Council, the Democratic
Journalists League, the International Eurasia Press Fund and also several other
journalists organisations and editorial offices of the mass media.
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The IFJ represents over 600,000
journalists in 125 countries worldwide