An appeal has been filed against the decision of the Garadag District Court on 25 February to prolong the detention term of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan newspapers’ editor-in-chief Eynulla Fatullayev in the Baku Investigative Prison for two more months. Fatullayev seeks the annulment of the decision in the appeal.

Fatullayev’s lawyer Elchin Sadigov told Radio Liberty that the appeal was submitted to the Garadag District Court on 1 March. In accordance with legislation, the Garadag District Court has to send it to the Baku Appellate Court.

In his appeal, E.Fatullayev assessed the new drug charge against him as part of repressive campaign against him by the government. He noted that three years ago he was sentenced to 8 years and 6 months imprisonment for his journalism work over trumped-up charges, but became the victim of a new provocation while he was held in prison #12. The journalist stated that the drug charges against him are spurious and politically motivated.

Fatullayev noted in his appeal that the leadership of the Penitentiary Services offered him through his relatives to address a pardon appeal to the president.

“According to their terms, I was supposed to admit my faults, guarantee that I will not criticize Ilham Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva, or I will leave the country,” said Fatullayev, who stated that he refused the offer. “After all these a new wave of provocations began against him,” noted Fatullayev who added that the manuscripts of a book he was writing about events in the country during the latest years were taken from him by the leadership of the Penitentiary Services. Fatullayev stated that the new drug charges against him are provocation and that he sensed that a new provocation was being prepared against him claiming that he saw National Security Ministry Employees A.Chovdarov and D.Allahverdiyev in the prison.

In his appeal, Eynulla Fatullayev stated that he continued his investigations following his encounter in Tbilisi with Teymuraz Aliyev and Tahir Khubanov who are suspected figures in the murder of “Monitor” Journal Editor-in-Chief Elmar Huseynov, and found out that Huseynov’s murder was related to the NSM officer.

“Having unveiled the traces of organizers of the murder, I came to the conclusion that all suspicions hover around NSM Officer Akif Chovdarov,” noted Fatullayev and added that he was imprisoned for his investigations into Elmar Huseynov’s murder.

Recall that the name of NSM Officer Akif Chovdarov, who is from Georgia, was mentioned in the 2008 beating of Azadlig Newspaper correspondent Agil Khalil.

NSM Official Arif Babayev told Radio Liberty that Eynulla Fatullayev’s claims are totally groundless, and he does not want to comment on them.

Penitentiary Services Press Service Head Mehman Sadigov denied all the charges in Fatullayev’s appeal, and said that they do not conform to reality.

Several days ago Eynulla Fatullayev appealed to international organizations and government organs where he expressed concern for his life. The Penitentiary Services Press Service denied these charges and said that journalist’s safety has been secured.

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.

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