The Institute for Reporter’s Freedom and Safety (IRFS) welcomes the release of Eynulla Fatullayev, Gundelik Azerbaydjan and Realniy Azerbaidjan editor-in-chief, under a pardon decree issued by Ilham Aliyev, the president of the Republic of Azerbaijan, on May 26, 2011.
In 2007, Eynulla Fatullayev was sentenced to 8.5 years in jail for threatening terrorism, amongst other charges. However, on April 22, 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled for his immediate release and financial compensation from the Azerbaijani government (27,800 EUR). The Azerbaijani Supreme Court Plenum only partially fulfilled the decision.
On the 29th of December, 2009, 0.223 grams of heroin was reportedly found on Fatullayev in Prison #12 and on the 6th of July, 2010, Fatullayev was found guilty under article 234.1 (possession of narcotics) of the Criminal Code. His sentence of two years and six months in prison began on the same date. His appeal against the decision was rejected. A cassation appeal has been lodged with Supreme Court.
IRFS states that this occasion will have a positive impact on real condition of freedom of press in Azerbaijan. However, the increased number of political prisoners will keep Azerbaijan on the list of the countries lacking freedom of press.
IRFS believes that the Azerbaijani government should release youth activists Jabbar Savalanli, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev; and the following political figures who were arrested during the 2 April meeting – Arif Hajili, Tural Abbaslı, Ahad Mammadli, Elshan Hasanov, Azerbaijan Popular Front Party members Mahammad Hajili, Sahib Karimov, Babek Hasanov; as well as citizen Ulvi Guliyev. In addition, it should suspend the search warrant issued for Elnur Majidli, against whom a criminal case has been opened for his Facebook posts.