Afrique Ameriques Asie Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
Azerbaijan31 October 2007

Appeal court upholds long prison sentence for newspaper editor

A Baku appeal court today upheld the sentence of eight and a half years in prison that was imposed last October on Eynulla Fatullayev, the editor of the dailies, Realny Azerbaijan and Gundelik Azerbaijan.

“This ruling is a travesty of justice,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Fatullayev’s conviction is above all political. We hope his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights will allow him to demonstrate the facts of the case.”

A serious crimes court headed by judge Mehdi Asadov convicted Fatullayev on 30 October of “terrorism threat” (article 214.1 of the criminal code), tax evasion (article 213.2.2) and inciting racial hatred (article 283.2.2)

(JPEG)


Long jail term for newspaper editor confirms Azerbaijan’s poor ranking in world press freedom index

Reporters Without Borders condemns the sentence of eight and a half years in prison and fine of 200,000 manats (230,000 dollars) imposed yesterday on newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev because of an article about Azerbaijan’s support for US military operations in the region. He was found guilty of “terrorism threat” (article 214.1 of the criminal code), tax evasion (article 213.2.2) and inciting racial hatred (article 283.2.2).

“Fatullayev’s conviction is simply outrageous as there was absolutely no evidence for these charges,” the press freedom organisation said. “This prosecution and an earlier one were politically motivated and mark a dangerous development for press freedom in Azerbaijan. We call on President Aliev to display clemency and have him released. Our hopes are also pinned on the European Court of Human Rights. It should tell the Azerbaijani authorities that this travesty of justice fools no one.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “The article for which Fatullayev was convicted was just a foreign policy analysis. The authorities used it to punish a journalist who, in their view, was overly critical. This verdict comes amid a steady increase in harassment of the independent press, which is why Azerbaijan was ranked 139th out of 169 countries in our latest world press freedom index.”

Fatullayev, who edits two of the country’s most important dailies, Realny Azerbaijan and Gundelik Azerbaijan, was tried by a serious crimes court in Baku headed by judge Mehdi Asadov, who ordered the seizure of the newspapers’ 23 computers as well as imposing the jail term and fine.

The trial, which began on 10 October, focused on an article headlined “The Alievs prepare for war,” which appeared in the Russian-language Realny Azerbaijan in May. Fatullayev argued in this article that Azerbaijan would be exposed to reprisals if the United States attacked Iran and he cited possible Azerbaijani targets. The charge of inciting racial hatred was based on the fact that he also warned that this policy could revive ethnic tension within Azerbaijan.

After the verdict was read out, Fatullayev ironically thanked the court for its “overly mild” sentence. He also referred to Elmar Husseynov, the editor of the independent weekly Monitor, who was gunned down in March 2005. In an article in March of this year, Fatullayev accused the authorities of obstructing the investigation into his murder. He received death threats following the article.

This is the second time Fatullayev has been tried and convicted this year. In April, he was found guilty of libelling the army in an article accusing the Azerbaijani armed forces of sharing responsibility with their Armenian counterparts for the deaths of hundreds of civilians during an attack by Armenian troops in 1992 on the village of Khojali in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

His two newspapers, Realny Azerbaijan and Gundelik Azerbaijan, have been closed since May, when much of their material was confiscated on the grounds of a violation of fire prevention regulations.

It was in May, after Reporters Without Borders added President Aliev to its list of press freedom predators, that the authorities announced that they would no longer cooperate with the organisation. Azerbaijan fell four places (to 139th position) in the 2007 world press freedom index. Seven journalists are currently in prison in Azerbaijan.




  In this country
28 May - Azerbaijan
Court breaks law by refusing to release journalist on health grounds
9 April - Azerbaijan
Mirza Sakit Zahidov finally released
2 March - Azerbaijan
Four years after editor’s murder, investigators have achieved nothing
6 February - Azerbaijan
Court rejects early release for jailed newspaper reporter
22 January - Azerbaijan
Four journalists threatened and expelled from Nakhchivan for trying to investigate disappearance of mother and son

in the annual report
Azerbaijan - Annual Report 2008
Azerbaijan - Annual report 2007
Azerbaijan - 2006 Annual report

Europe press releases
4 June - Kosovo
Rrokum TV station still excluded by national broadcasting network
2 June - Ukraine
Potential witness’s death deals severe blow to probe into journalist’s murder
2 June - Turkey
Woman journalist held for past five weeks on baseless charge of link to armed group
2 June - Russia
Journalist seeks asylum in Finland after being convicted for prison torture articles
29 May - France
Regrettable decision by appeal court to lift ban on magazine only if offending photo is covered up

Reports
5 February 2009 - Bulgaria
“Resignation or resistance, Bulgaria’s embattled press hesitates”
28 January 2009 - Russia
Fact-finding visit : Moscow double murder may have been linked to November attack on local newspaper editor
27 June 2008 - Turkey
Investigation report into the detention of journalist Haci Bogatekin, imprisoned for more than two months and facing ten and a half years in prison
archives

Sign the petitions
Uzbekistan
Jusuf Ruzimuradov

Europe archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives