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Since he first landed in a Baku Investigative Prison upon his arrest on 28 October 2011, the only thing that opposition newspaper editor Avaz Zeynallis has been requesting is access to a computer. According to representative of Red Cross Committee who visited Zeynalli in prison, he is in good spirits and upbeat, keen on continuing his journalistic activity.
On March 29 Red Cross Committee representative Assiat Blansi met with Khural newspaper editor Avaz Zeynalli in Baku Investigative Prison, the journalist’s spouse Malahat Zeynalli told IRFS yesterday (April 1).
Assiat Blansi, who met with Zeynalli on March 29 in his cell, first asked him about his prison conditions; and discussed possible reasons and motives behind his arrest.
According to Blansi, Avaz Zeynalli is one of those prisoners who are in the spotlight of International Red Cross Committee. The Committee is determined to pay close attention to Avaz Zeynalli’s conditions in prison, Blansi said.
According to Malahat Zeynalli, the journalist did not complain of his prison conditions but asked the Red Cross representative to devote equal attention to his journalistic profession.
“Avaz has asked the Red Cross to ensure his access to a computer. The Red Cross representative promised to pass his request to the leadership of the Justice Ministry Penitentiary Service and, once permission is given, to provide him with the laptop” said the journalist’s wife.
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 asked the court to sentence Zeynalli to 11 years in jail. On 12 March 2013 the Baku Grave Crimes Court sentenced the journalist to nine years in prison.
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.