INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS` FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

December 30th, 2009
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) condemns Azerbaijan’s government for provocation against the imprisoned Editor-in-chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev who is being held in prison #12.    

According to Eynulla Fatullayev’s father Emin Fatullayev, yesterday, 29 December, in the morning, 0.22 grams heroin was found in Eynulla Fatullayev’s cell where he is being held with 30 people. Emin Fatullayev said that the narcotic in question was found in Eynulla’s jacket and shoe.

The Garadag District police Department stated that a criminal case was already launched under article 234 (preparing, producing, obtaining and/or selling of narcotics illegally) of the Criminal Code and an investigation is being conducted into the case.

Today, 30 December, at 9:00 p.m., lawyer Isakhan Ashurov met with Eynulla Fatullayev. According to Ashurov, a criminal case was opened against the journalist under article 234.1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Under this article, the journalist is expected to be sentenced to 3 more years. However, Fatullayev claimed that no narcotic was found on him and this is provocation against him.  

IRFS notes that this provocation is related to hearings planned to be held in the European Court of Human Rights on the appeal of Fatullayev in the near future. Through this provocation, the administration will attempt to make Fatullayev to rescind his appeal from the ECHR or Eynulla Fatullayev will remain in prison in case the ECHR issues a decision to state that the case against the journalist is unfounded and he should be released.

IRFS considers that the operation organized by the administration to implant narcotics in the cell of Fatullayev was carried out to prevent him from being released. Sudden discovery of narcotics on the journalist, who has been imprisoned for almost three years, at the eve of hearings of the ECHR is one of the doubtful nuances.

IRFS reminds that Azadlig newspaper satiric journalist Sakit Zahidov who criticized the government was accused by police under bogus charges in 2006: 10 grams narcotics was implanted in his pocket and he was accused under article 234.1 and imprisoned for three years.

IRFS believes that this attitude toward Eynulla Fatullayev who investigated the murder case of slain editor-in-chief of Monitor journal Elmar Huseynov strengthens the likelihood of the government being behind the murder of Huseynov.

IRFS demands that Azerbaijan’s government stop the pitiless war against freedom of speech, and immediately release Eynulla Fatullayev, Ganimat Zahid, Emin Milli (Abdullayev) and Adnan Hajizade who have been recognized as prisoners of conscience by local and international organizations.

IRFS calls on international community to demand that Azerbaijan’s government fulfill its commitments. IRFS calls for application of the most severe sanctions against the administration and for its debarment from the membership of organizations (the Council of Europe, OSCE and so on) to which it made commitments in the area of human rights.