Yesterday, 17 March, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement regarding threatening calls made against the family of imprisoned Editor-in-chief Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev.

In the statement, CPJ called on Azerbaijani authorities to thoroughly investigate the death threat made against imprisoned editor Eynulla Fatullayev, a 2009 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award, and his family.

“We are outraged that Eynulla Fatullayev’s family should receive a death threat even as he is serving a jail sentence on trumped-up charges,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “These criminal threats must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible brought to justice.”

“Earlier this month, Eynulla Fatullayev issued a statement from prison concerning the March 2, 2005, murder of his boss and mentor Elmar Huseynov,” read the statement. “In the statement, initially reported by the independent Azerbaijani news agency Turan, Fatullayev said he had information that a high-ranking official in the country’s Ministry of National Security (MNB) had plotted Huseynov’s murder. Fatullayev had covered the unsolved murder of Huseynov extensively before his imprisonment. CPJ has concluded that Fatullayev’s imprisonment was in reprisal for that coverage.”

“Turan Director Mehman Aliyev was summoned to the Ministry of National Security where he was questioned about the imprisoned editor’s statement, according to the local press freedom group Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety,” it was said in the statement of CPJ.

Yesterday, 17 March, Eynulla Fatullayev’s father received a phone call from an unidentified person who told him, “your son and you should not speak much or things might turn bad for you and we will destroy you.” Emin Fatullayev said he immediately reported the threat to police.

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. 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.         

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.

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