Seymur Hazi – a journalist at Azadliq, an opposition newspaper critical of the government, and a host of the TV program Azerbaijani Hour – has been selected as one of the laureates of the Fritt Ord Foundation and the ZEIT-Stiftung Free Media Prizes for Independent Journalism in Eastern Europe.
Currently in prison, Seymur Hazi was arrested on August 29, 2014, after a fight with a man named Maharram Hasanov in Baku’s Jeyranbatan settlement. He was charged under Article 221.3 of the Criminal Code (hooliganism committed using an object as a weapon) and was sentenced to 5 years in jail by Absheron Regional Court on January 29, 2015. This decision was appealed, but Sumgayit Appeal Court upheld the original verdict against Hazi on September 29, 2015. The Supreme Court rejected the journalist’s cassation complaint on April 15, 2016.
According to the official press release, Seymur Hazi was nominated by colleagues Shahvalad Chobanoglu, Zamin Haji, Natig Javadli, Mehman Huseynov, Tahmina Tagizade and Khadija Ismayil.
The other two laureates are from Russia and Ukraine: “Elena Milashina is an investigative journalist of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta on the North Caucasus. The other winner is the Ukrainian website Nashi Groshi (Our Money), which is renowned for anti-corruption reporting in Ukraine.”
Via a phone call from jail, Seymur Hazi thanked Fritt Ord and the ZEIT-Stiftung as well as all those who had nominated him.
The award ceremony will take place in Tbilisi, Georgia in November 2016.