Today, in the office of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, a press conference was held by the Rights Defense Committee for Imprisoned Science Academy Linguistic Institute Department Head, “Talyshi Sado” Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Novruzali Mammadov.

Chairperson of the Institute for Peace and Democracy Leyla Yunus opened the press conference and stated that N.Mammadov’s guilt was not proved during his trial. It was determined that his arrest was a set-up. Therefore the Institute for Peace and Democracy considers Mammadov a political prisoner. Hilal Mammadov, chairman of the right defense committee of N. Mammadov, said that N. Mammadov always defended Azerbaijan’s statehood in the press and never expressed any thoughts against the government. Despite this, he assessed N. Mammadov’s arrest as part of a witch-hunt carried out by the Azerbaijani government in front of the West for Iranian spies. He also said that before his arrest, N. Mammadov was pressured by the National Security Ministry, and then he was arrested. Another reason for this operation is to frighten national minorities in Azerbaijan. Defense lawyer of N. Mammadov, Ramiz Mammadov, said that on 2 February 2007 N. Mammadov was kidnapped by NSM employees. He was held in the administrative building of NSM and was interrogated there. Later on 3 February, Mammadov, who was freed, was arrested by police in front of the Science Academy and sentenced to 15 days of administrative arrest by the Yasamal District Court for not obeying police. This is illegal, because according to local legislation, people who are 65 and older cannot be imprisoned for administrative crimes. However, in lieu of taking him to the appropriate prison of the Justice Ministry, he was taken to the Ministry of National Security’s isolator and kept there for 15 days. During these 15 days, he was not allowed to meet with his lawyer or other people close to him. On 17 February 2007, N. Mammadov was formally charged by the National Security Ministry of treason.

According to the indictment, in 1998 N. Mammadov became the chief editor of “Talyshi Sado” Newspaper, and under the guise of promoting sports, he actually was promoting the Talysh. In addition, with the goal of creating an administrative autonomy for the Talysh, N. Mammadov gathered information, determined people in the security services of foreign countries who had necessary information and provided these people with information, and appealed to international organizations about the violations of the Talysh people’s rights, which contributed the formation of a negative image about Azerbaijan and the putting of pressure on Azerbaijan by international organizations. He found students interested in studying religion and sent them to study aboard, appealed to Public TV for programming in the Talysh language, opened the Talysh Culture Center and submitted papers to the Ministry of Justice trying to get Talysh Sado Newspaper registered. He also appealed to foreign language professors, carried out intelligence-like information requests, and tried to get people of Talysh ethnicity jobs in executive and legislative so he could use them later.

R. Mammedov said that the decision to conduct a closed court trial for N. Mammadov was completely unfounded. The real reason for this was to conceal from the public falsifications by the Ministry of National Security and the court. He said it is reasonable to conclude from the verdict that all of the witnesses’ testimony was completely falsified. An appeals court complaint will be filed soon R. Mammadov said. The lawyer stated that the hearing was held close without any evidence. The main reason of this was to hide forgery of NSM and court. The lawyer also stated that the decision adopted by the court shows that testimonies given by witnesses on N.Mammadov’s favor have been completely falsified. In the end the lawyer said that they will file an appeal from this decision.

*Novruzali Mammadov, Hilal Mammadov and Ramiz Mammadov are not related to each other.

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