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