FRENCH GOVERNMENT ISSUES STATEMENT REGARDING NEW DECISION AGAINST EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

July 15th, 2010

French government disseminated a statement expressing concern for the latest decision issued on Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan newspapers’ Editor-in-Chief Eynulla Fatullayev. The statement placed on the website of French Embassy to Azerbaijan reads, “We were concerned when we learned about the conviction of Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev to a new term of imprisonment of two and a half years.

The decision came after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg issued its decision on this case on April 22 and ordered his immediate release and payment of a financial compensation to him. We call on Azerbaijani authorities to comply with the commitments they have undertaken under the European Convention of Human Rights and to implement the decision of the European Court of Human Rights. France reiterates its commitment to respect fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and the right of journalists to exercise their work freely.

 

"France remains ready to cooperate with Azerbaijan in order to strengthen legal government and promote civil society in this country. "

On 29 December 2009, 0.223 grams of heroin were 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 was sentenced to two years and six months in prison, and the execution of the verdict 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 regarding the journalist's release.

 

On 22 April 2010, the ECHR issued a decision regarding the case of imprisoned Fatullayev. The decision states that the journalist should be released immediately, and the Azerbaijani government should pay 27,822 EUR to Fatullayev in compensation. The Azerbaijani government stated that they did not agree with the decision and filed an appeal with the Grand Chamber of the ECHR.

 

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 safety concerns. 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 under the decision of the Grave Crimes Court and was fined 242 thousand 522 AZN.  

 

Beginning their publications in 2005, Realniy Azerbaijan ran as a weekly newspaper, whereas Gundelik Azerbaijan was published as a daily newspaper. Fatullayev established both newspapers and served as the editor-in-chief of both publications. The newspapers ceased their activity after the arrest of Fatullayev in 2007.