The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement in response to Azerbaijani press reports, which stated that the isolated detention of imprisoned editor Eynulla Fatullayev, a 2009 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award, on a new trumped-up charge of drug possession, has been prolonged for two months.
"We are deeply dismayed by the continued imprisonment of our colleague Eynulla Fatullayev whose only crime is his courageous journalism," said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. "It is a great loss to the Azerbaijani public that it has been deprived of Fatullayev’s work, a loss felt especially today on the fifth anniversary of the unsolved murder of his former editor Elmar Huseynov. In that time, the official investigation into Huseynov’s assassination has gone nowhere and Fatullayev, the journalist who dedicated his work to solving this crime, continues to languish in jail. We call on Azerbaijani’s government to release him immediately."
On 29 December, 0.223 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. A criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the Garadag District Investigative Department under article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (Illegal purchase or storage without a purpose of selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in a quantity (amount) exceeding necessary for personal consumption) and he 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. Prior to the new charge against him, Fatullayev was serving his sentence in prison #12.
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.