IFJ Joins Call for Release of Detained Journalist in Azerbaijan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today joined ten press freedom organisations in calling on Azerbaijan President, Ilham Aliyev, to release leading journalist Eynulla Fatullayev who remains in detention despite the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) of 22 April 2010 ordering his release. Instead, the authorities have since convicted him of possession of drugs, allegedly found in his prison cell in December 2009, in an attempt to frustrate the outcome of the ECHR case.

"His continued detention is a blatant abuse of power and contempt for Azerbaijan's international obligations," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Press freedom in Azerbaijan remains elusive in the face of the government control and manipulation of media."

The eleven organisations, the IFJ, ARTICLE 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, Human Rights House Foundation, Index on Censorship, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Media Diversity Institute, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Reporters Without Borders, and World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers have sent an official letter to President Aliyev demanding compliance with the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights and the dropping of new charges against Mr. Fatullayev.

Fatullayev's 2007 conviction for criminal defamation, making terrorist threats, inciting inter-ethnic violence and tax evasion was considered unsafe by the ECHR. The subsequent charges and conviction for drug possession were publicly dismissed by the former OSCE Representative for Media Freedom, Miklos Haraszti, as "highly improbable and "aimed at pre-empting the European Court of Human Rights", says the letter which also holds the government responsible for the health and safety of the journalist, in accordance with Azerbaijan's international legal obligations.

The IFJ took part in the mission of inquiry carried out in Azerbaijan in September 2010 to assess the situation of press freedom. The mission findings included the continued control of media by government, the closure of independent international broadcasters such as the BBC, VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as well as the arbitrary detention of independent journalists such as Eynulla Fatullayev and bloggers Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli.


The Mission Report - Free Expression under Attack - Is Accessible here


For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries