INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS` FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

March 19th, 2010
The Institute for Reporters` Freedom and Safety applauds the pardon decree signed by Azerbaijan Republic President Ilham Aliyev on the eve of the national Azeri holiday of Novruz.

Yesterday, 62 prisoners, including Azadlig Newspaper Editor-in-Chief Ganimat Zahid, were pardoned under the pardon decree. Ganimat Zahid was convicted under articles 127.2.3 (hooliganism with intentional infliction of minor bodily harm) and 221 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code and imprisoned for four years. Local and international human rights organizations condemned his arrest claiming that he was imprisoned on trumped-up charges.
IRFS regrets that this presidential pardon decree excluded imprisoned Editor-in-chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers, Eynulla Fatullayev, and imprisoned youth bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade. Holding these individuals in custody is the basis to assess the situation of freedom of speech negatively and their imprisonment is damaging to the image of Azerbaijan.  
IRFS calls on the Azerbaijani government to implement its obligations in the area of freedom of speech and release Eynulla Fatullayev, Emin Milli (Abduallyev) and Adnan Hajizade immediately.