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A group of civil society representatives have appealed to the chiefs of Justice Ministry’s Penitentiary Service and Prison #10 requesting a meeting with the imprisoned chief editor of Khural newspaper Avaz Zeynalli, CEO and Chairman of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) Emin Huseynov said.
According to Huseynov, the group wanted to meet with Zeynalli on the National Press Day (July 22).
“International and local organizations recognize Zeynalli as a political prisoner. He was arrested on trumped-up charges” the appeal reads.
If no response is provided to their appeal, the civil society representatives will go to court based on their right to get response to their appeals guaranteed under Article 57 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan and the Law of the Azerbaijan Republic on Procedures for Review of Citizens’ Applications.
Background: Avaz Zeynalli was arrested on October 28, 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 sentenced the journalist to nine years in prison. The decision was upheld by Baku Appeals Court on May 13.
A number 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.