INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CONDEMNS VERDICT AGAINST EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

July 7th, 2010

The international community condemns the new sentence of 2.5 years against the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan newspapers, Eynulla Fatullayev.

“We strongly condemn the imposition of an additional sentence on this journalist,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We regard it as politically motivated and as yet further evidence of the government’s determination to silence its critics. It shows the contempt with which the authorities regard the European Court of Human Rights, which called for his release in a 22 April ruling.”

 

"I am deeply disappointed with the sentencing, which is yet another attempt at silencing free media in Azerbaijan on questionable criminal charges," OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic said in a press release. "As I wrote in a letter to President Ilham Aliyev on 15 June, I call on Azerbaijani authorities to ensure that Fatullayev and the two video bloggers are set free. By keeping independent-minded journalists behind bars, Azerbaijan demonstrates that it is unwilling to meet OSCE media freedom commitments."

 

“We are outraged at today’s verdict against Eynulla Fatullayev and call on the Baku Appellate Court to overturn it promptly,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Azerbaijan must drop this absurd new sentence and annul the old case against our colleague or face sanctions.”

 

Amnesty International, ARTICLE 19, and the Norwegian Embassy to Azerbaijan condemned the latest verdict against Eynulla Fatullayev and called on the Azerbaijani government to free him.

 

On 29 December, 0.223 grams of heroin was 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 (ECHR) regarding the journalist.

 

On 22 April, the European Court of Human Rights issued a decision regarding the case of imprisoned Editor-in-Chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan newspapers Eynulla 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 at the Grand Chamber of the ECHR.

 

On 20 April 2007, Eynulla 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).

 

Eynulla 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. Eynulla Fatullayev established both newspapers and served as the editor-in-chief of both publications. The newspapers ceased their activity after the arrest ofFatullayev in 2007.