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Azerbaijan10 September 2007

New charge of tax evasion brought against imprisoned newspaper editor

The national security ministry has brought yet another charge against Eynulla Fatullayev, the imprisoned editor of two daily newspapers, Realny Azerbaijan and Gundelik Azerbaijan. He is now also accused of concealing around 215,000 euros of the newspapers’ income to evade tax.

This is the second time an additional charge has been brought against Fatullayev since he was given a 30-month sentence for “insulting the Azerbaijani people” in April. Charges of terrorism and inciting racial hatred were brought against him in July.

The tax evasion charge was added following interrogation of the staff of the two newspapers, which have been closed down by the authorities. Journalist Uzeir Jafarov of Gundelik Azerbaijan said the sole aim of the new charge was to keep Fatullayev behind bars. He faces the possibility of an additional two-year sentence.

After a week-long visit to Azerbaijan, Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg said on 7 September that it was vital that Azerbaijan should stop bringing criminal prosecutions against journalists for defamation. He said he asked President Ilham Aliev to release the seven journalists currently in prison but thought it was unlikely that this would happen.

The president, who is trying to improve Azerbaijan’s image abroad, did however assure Hammarberg that he would pay close attention to the report that Hammarberg plans to issue on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan.


13 juillet 2007 More harassment by national security ministry in Fatullayev case

Baku appeal court judge Rasul Safarov issued a ruling on 11 July confirming the Sabail district court’s decision to keep newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev in the national security ministry’s detention centre. Fatullayev is serving a 30-month sentence for libel but new terrorism charges were recently brought against him.

Four employees of Gundelik Azerbaijan (one of the two newspapers he edits) - Famil Jafarli, Jeyhun Nagiyev, Aynur Elgunesh and Neymat Huseynli - have meanwhile been questioned as witnesses by the national security ministry. Jafarli said they were asked what pseudonym Fatullayev used as a byline for his own articles. Each was questioned for about half an hour.

So far, more than 20 people working for Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realny Azerbaijan (Fatullayev’s other newspaper) have been interrogated.

Reporters Without Borders condemns this constant harassment of both Fatullayev and his colleagues, which shows that the government is determined to suppress their newspapers.




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