The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety Institute (IRFS) condemns the decision to not fulfill blogger Adnan Hajizade’s lawsuit to be freed early and believes that this decision is politically motivated.
Hajizade, who was imprisoned for 2 years over bogus hooliganism charges for his video recording “Interview with Esel Heinz”, filed a lawsuit for early release since he has served half of his prison term. However, his lawsuit was not fulfilled today, 26 July.
It should be noted that on 8 July, Hajizade and another blogger Emin Milli were sitting at a table in “Lebonese” (Livan) restaurant along with several other young adults, when two people who looked like sportsmen came up to them, and attacked them causing physical injuries. Although they appealed to the police as victims, the police detained Adnan and Emin as suspects. A criminal case was opened against them under hooliganism charges. On 11 November a verdict was issued in the Sabail district Court to sentence Adnan Hajizade to 2 years imprisonment and Emin Milli to 2,5 years imprisonment. On 10 March, the Baku Appellate Court adopted a decision to uphold the verdict of the Sabail District Court.
IRFS believes that the court’s failure to fulfill Hajizade’s lawsuit for early release is the result of the Azerbaijani government’s intolerance of criticism and free speech. However, Azerbaijan Republic’s President, Ilham Aliyev, stated in his speech in honor on the 135th anniversary of the press that the Azerbaijani government is very tolerant to criticism, and even insult. Today’s decision shows that these statements were meant to mask the eyes of local and international communities.
IRFS calls on Azerbaijan’s government to immediately free youth bloggers Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli, and prisoner of conscience, Realniy Azerbaijan and Gundelik Azerbaijan newspapers’ Editor-in-Chief, Eynulla Fatullayev.