EUROPEAN COURT UPHOLDS DECISION ON IMMEDIATE RELEASE OF EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

October 18th, 2010

The European Court of Human Rights decision on immediate release of Eynulla Fatullayev, editor-in-chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaidjan newspapers, was upheld, said the journalist’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov.

Sadigov reported that the rejection of the government’s appeal to Grand Chamber was issued on October 4th, and that this final judgement has been heard in court.
The court website says that it this a Final Judgment, issued under Article 44.2 of European Convention of Human Rights. Paragraph C of this Article says that The judgment of a Chamber shall become final when the panel of the Grand Chamber rejects the request.
 
 BACKGROUND
On the 20th of April, 2007, Fatullayev was arrested in the court hall after a ruling by the Yasamal District Court on the lawsuit of Refugee/IDP Rights Defense Committee chairperson Tatyana Chaladze. After his arrest, a criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the National Security Ministry Chief Investigative Office regarding an article published in Realniy Azerbaijan newspaper. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the article caused foreign citizens and representatives of international organizations to be concerned for their safety. He was convicted under articles 214.1 (threatening terror), 283.2.2 (incitement of ethnic/national, social or religious hatred abusing authority) of the Criminal Code and was sentenced to a pre-trial detention. Fatullayev was then convicted under 213.2.2 (tax evasion). Fatullayev was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison on the 30th of October, 2007 and was fined 242,522 AZN under the decision of the Grave Crimes Court.
On the 29th of December, 2009, 0.223 grams of heroin was found on Fatullayev in Prison #12.
A criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the Garadag District Investigative Department. On the 6th of July, 2010, Fatullayev was found guilty under article 234.1 (Illegal possession of narcotics in an amount exceeding the limit for personal consumption) of the Criminal Code. His sentence of two years and six months in prison began on the same date. Fatullayev and his lawyer believe that this incident was a set-up, organized so that the court could avoid complying with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the journalist's release.   
On the 22nd of April, 2010, the ECHR issued a decision that Fatullayev should be released immediately, and that the Azerbaijani government should pay 27,822 EUR to Fatullayev in compensation. The Azerbaijani government filed an appeal with the Grand Chamber of the ECHR regarding this decision. Fatullayev is recognized as a prisoner of conscience by local and international organizations.   
Fatullayev established and was the Editor-in-chief of both Realniy Azerbaijan and Gundelik Azerbaijan newspapers. First published in 2005, Realniy Azerbaijan ran as a weekly newspaper, while Gundelik Azerbaijan was published daily. The newspapers stopped running after Fatullayev's arrest in 2007.