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Detained journalist harassed in prison

(IRFS/IFEX) - The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) is concerned about the pressure being placed on the imprisoned editor-in-chief of the "Gundalik Azerbayjan" and "Realny Azerbayjan" newspapers, Eynulla Fatullayev, and his placement in a punishment cell.

During a press conference conducted on 22 October 2008 Fataullyev's father, Emin Fatullayev, said, "In the prison on October 1, an incident occurred between Eynulla and another prisoner. The prisoner approached him and said, 'Why are you looking at me like that?' Eynulla did not want to argue and distanced himself from the prisoner. Even though Eynulla avoided an argument, both Eynulla and the other prisoner were put in a punishment cell. Eynulla was kept unjustly in the punishment cell for three days after this. A doctor from Prison #12 told me that the prisoner involved in this incident is mentally ill. At the same time, the doctor said that the prisoner is from the same location as the prison operations department chief, Karam Shirinov. According to the information I have, Chief Shirinov always uses people who are mentally ill or of a sexual minority for provocation."

IRFS believes that these types of incidents against Fatullayev are being intentionally caused. After it was announced at the end of September that the European Court of Human Rights accepted Fatullayev's case for consideration, harassment against the imprisoned journalist became more regular. Even after Fatullayev was released from the punishment cell in October, he was so concerned that some sort of provocation would be committed against him that he called home on 14 October and he would not cast a vote in the presidential election held on 15 October.

IRFS notes that the government will be held responsible for any actions against Eyunlla Fatullayev, especially while the journalist is in prison. International human rights organisations recognize Fatullayev as a political prisoner, and he has also been declared a prisoner of conscience. Local and international organisations alike have called the charges that Fatullayev was imprisoned on (terror, incitement of ethnic and racial hatred, defamation) trumped up, and say that the real reason for his arrest is the articles he has written.

IRFS demands an investigation into the reasons why the mentally ill person who tried to provoke Fatullayev is being kept in prison. The organisation also calls for disciplinary measures to be taken against the people responsible for wrongfully placing Fatullayev in the punishment cell and for all four of Azerbaijan's wrongfully imprisoned journalists to be immediately released. At the same time, IRFS calls on the international community to closely follow this situation and to encourage Azerbaijan's government to fulfill the demands stated above.

Updates the Fatullayev case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/94265

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