On January 16, 2008, an Azerbaijani appellate court upheld the conviction against editor Eynulla Fatullayev, who is serving an eight-and-a-half-year sentence on charges linked to his critical reporting. International PEN considers the continued detention of Eynulla Fatullayev to be a breach of international standards guaranteeing freedom of expression and calls for his immediate release.

Background Information

Eynulla Fatullayev, editor of Russian-language weekly Realny Azerbaijan and the Azeri-language weekly Gündelike Azerbaijan was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison on October 30, 2007, on charges of terrorism and inciting ethnic hatred under article 214 of the Azeri penal code.  He is currently held in a prison just outside Baku.

The charges against Fatullayev relate to an article he published in his newspaper that argued that the Azeri support of United States foreign policy would make them more likely to be attacked by Iran. The sentence also encompassed charges of tax evasion. At the time of the sentencing in October 2007, Fatullayev was already serving a sentence of two and a half years on charges of libel and insult for an article that he denied writing. Fatullayev has a history of challenging the Azeri authorities and many believe the charges are another way of silencing him.

The sentence was upheld in an appeals court in the Azeri capital of Baku on January 16, 2008. Fatullayev had filed the appeal in November 2007 and proceedings began the following month. Following the verdict, Fatullayev reportedly told appellate judges that the case against him had been “fabricated on an order from above.” The Baku- based Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety said that the public were allowed to attend the proceedings and it was filmed by a state-run television service.

There has been a marked increase in the hostility shown toward journalists in Azerbaijan recently. In December 2007, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that nine journalists are imprisoned in the country. On December 28, 2007, President Ilham Aliyev pardoned five of them, but Eynulla Fatullayev was among the three who remained behind bars. Defense lawyer Isakhan Ashurov has told sources that he intends to take the case to the Azerbaijani Supreme Court.

Write A Letter

  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Eynullah Fatullayev;
  • Stating that his continued imprisonment is in clear breach of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Send Your Letter To

President Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President
19 Istiqlaliyyat Street
Baku AZ1066
Fax: +994 12 492 0625
E-mail: president@gov.az

Minister of Internal Affairs
Lt.-Gen. Ramil Usubov  
Ministry of Internal Affairs
Husu Hajiyev Street 7
370005 Baku
Fax: + 994 12 492 45 90

Please contact PEN if sending appeals after February 28, 2008: ftw [at] pen.org