Imprisoned Editor-in-chief of Realniy Azerbaijan and Gundelik Azerbaijan newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev wrote an open letter to the President of the Azerbaijan Republic Ilham Aliyev. The letter was published in two parts in Azadlig newspaper on 6 and 7 August.
Fatullayev stated in his letter that the President Ilham Aliyev tried to justify his arrest once again when he used the expression “it is unpardonable” in his speech during the Day of National Press on 22 July.
“There is no place for this kind of journalist, neither in journalism nor society. I was the reason for this aggressive call that was stated on 8 February 2008. However, this call was unpardonable,” emphasized Fatullayev in the letter to Ilham Aliyev.
Fatullayev stated that he hoped to be released immediately after the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). However, he understood that he was mistaken after he heard the response, “it is unpardonable.”
“I want to emphasiza that I don’t need to be pardoned after the decision of the Strasburg court. I don’t want to be pardoned, with or without th decision, because I am not any guilty of anything in the eyes of my nation and state. In paragraph 175 of the ECHR's decision reads: ‘Both prosecutions were unfounded to sentence Eynulla Fatullayev.’ Isn’t that clear enough?” said Eynulla Fatullayev. He added that he hoped that the ECHR will adopt the same decision on his latest prosecution.
“On 22 July, free press day, you spread the news far and wide: a journalist cannot conduct an interview in Nagorno Karabag! Let me ask you, which law states this? Where was this determined? Which legislation determined it? But international laws determine the dissemination of information without restriction, and our state is a signatory. Your order is the obvious sample of your real feelings towards freedom, the freedom of journalists, and independent press. You cannot order journalists. I determine what is interesting for readers, not you. This is my right. No shah, king, totalitarian, nor dominative system can take my right away. I am not a slave; I am a free man. I can be wrong; however, and I seek truth in my mistakes. Unlike your toy courts, the Strasburg Court adopted a decision, 'Eynulla Fatullayev is free to seek the truth. His right can not be taken from him.' Who gave you the right to act contrary to the will of international courts?” asked Fatullayev in his letter to ilham Aliyev.
Full text of the letter can be viewed here:
On 20 April 2007, Fatullayev was arrested in the court hall under the decision adopted 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, which according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs caused foreign citizens and representatives of international organizations concerns about 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 of imprisonment on 30 October 2007 and was fined 242 thousand 522 AZN under the decision of the Grave Crimes Court.
On 29 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 6 July 2010, Fatullayev was found guilty under article 234.1 (Illegal purchase or storage without a purpose of selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in an amount exceeding the necessary limit for personal consumption) of the Criminal Code and his sentence of two years and six months in prison began on this date. Fatullayev and his lawyer believe that this incident was a set-up in order for the court to not comply with the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the journalist's release.
On 22 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 prison of conscious by local and international organizations.
Fatullayev established and was the Editor-and-chief of both Realniy Azerbaijan and Gundelik Azerbaijan newspapers. Beginning their publications in 2005, Realniy Azerbaijan ran as a weekly newspaper, whereas Gundelik Azerbaijan was published as a daily newspaper. The newspapers ceased their activity after Fatullayev's arrest in 2007.