IFJ Dismayed by New Verdict against Azerbaijan journalist


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

immediate release.


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

for Fatullayev."


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.

Arrested in

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.

The sentence

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

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