Journalist Avaz Zeynalli needs surgery

March 31st, 2014

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Imprisoned founder and editor-in-chief of Khural newspaper Avaz Zeynalli suffers a health problem and needs to undergo surgical operation, the journalist’s wife Malahat Zeynalova told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) today, March 31.

According to her, she met Avaz on the eve of Novruz holiday, when he told her about the pains.

“Avaz suffers from nasal and aural pains. To find a relief from these pains he needs to be operated. His doctor is aware of his condition and has prescribed medications which we buy and send to the prison. We want to keep his condition stable with the help of medicines until the surgery,” said Zeynalova.

Background: Avaz Zeynalli was arrested on 28 October 2011 following a lawsuit brought by former MP Gular Ahmadova. The Anti-Corruption Office launched a criminal case against Zeynalli under article 311.3.3 (taking a large bribe) and article 311.3.4 (extortion) of the Criminal Code. Zeynalli was later charged under article 306 (contempt of court) and article 213.1 (tax evasion). On 13 February 2013 the public prosecutor requested 11 years imprisonment for Zeynalli. On 12 March 2013, the Baku Grave Crimes Court convicted and sentenced the journalist to 9 years in prison.

A wide range of local and international human rights organizations strongly believe that the charges against Avaz Zeynalli are trumped-up and that he was arrested for his articles criticizing high-ranking state officials.