CPJ DELEGATION CALLS FOR EYNULLA FATULLAYEV’S RELEASE

January 21st, 2010
On 20 January a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists met with Azerbaijani Charge d'Affaires Khazar Ibrahim at the Azerbaijani Embassy to deliver a letter carrying the names of more than 500 international journalists petitioning for the immediate release of Eynulla Fatullayev.

CPJ’s letter was delivered by CPJ board members Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Clarence Page, and Andrew Alexander; Executive Director Joel Simon; Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova; and Washington Representative Frank Smyth. The letter is addressed to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and urges the president to open a new page in his government’s policies toward the independent and opposition press by immediately releasing Fatullayev.
The delegation met with the Charge d'Affaires for an hour. Ibrahim said Fatullayev had been provided due process and that the government would respect the court decisions in the case. But Ibrahim also promised that CPJ’s letter would be delivered to President Aliyev, and he invited a continued dialogue with CPJ.
CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said after the meeting: “President Aliyev should demonstrate his government’s tolerance to scrutiny and criticism, and there is no louder or clearer message toward that end than ordering the release of our unjustly imprisoned colleague, Eynulla Fatullayev. No just and democratic society can be built without a vibrant, free press.”
On 29 December, 0.22 grams heroin was found on Fatullayev. Eynulla Fatullayev and his lawyer assess this incident as an operation set-up to prevent the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the journalist in the near future. Fatullayev was transferred to the Baku Investigative Prison #2 on 2 January.   
   
Eynulla Fatullayev was sentenced to 2.5 years of imprisonment on 21 April 2007 for insulting honor and dignity.  Later he was convicted under articles 214.1 (threatening terror), 283.2.2 (incitement of ethnic/national, social or religious hatred abusing authority), and 213.2.2 (tax evasion) of the Criminal Code and was sentenced to 8.5 years of imprisonment on 30 October 2007.        
    
Realniy Azerbaijan has been published as weekly newspaper, and Gundelik Azerbaijan was published as a daily newspaper since 2005. Eynulla Fatullayev established the newspapers and was the editor-in-chief of both publications. The newspapers ceased their activity after the arrest of the editor-in-chief in 2007.