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On December 9th Baku Court on Grave Crimes announced verdict sentencing editor-in-chief of azadxeber.org news website, Nijat Aliyev to 10 years in prison.
According to journalist’s lawyer Yalchin Imanov, his client was targeted for exercising his right to freedom of expression. “All the charges were fabricated. The drugs had been planted on Nijat Aliyev. Video recordings do not show any offence” the lawyer noted.
Background: Nijat Aliyev, editor-in-chief of azadxeber.org news website, was arrested on 20 May 2012, just a few days before Eurovision Song Contest Finals, on charges of drug possession.
On 26 January 2013 Aliyev faced new charges under three Articles of the Criminal Code: 126.96.36.199 (import, sale and distribution of religious literature, religious items and other informational materials of religious nature with the aim of reproduction, sale and distribution without appropriate authorization), 281.2 (making appeals to violent capture of authority, violent deduction of authority or violent change of constitutional grounds or infringement of territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as distribution of materials of such contents) and 283.2.3 (incitement of national, racial or religious hostility, humiliation of national honor, as well as discrimination of citizens based on their national, racial or religious background committed publicly or with use of mass media). His pretrial detention was extended for two months by Nasimi District Court on February 15.
Many international and local human rights groups believe that Nijat Aliyev was arrested for criticizing issues related to the Eurovision Song Contest, including the government’s high expenditures for the event and LGBT issues in connection with the contest, and questioned the need for the contest to be held in Azerbaijan.