Sign up for weekly updates

Dissident editor freed; other journalists and bloggers remain behind bars

An Azerbaijani editor imprisoned for his critical journalism was released on 18 March after serving more than half of a four-year term, report the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). But another journalist and two bloggers remain in detention, simply for expressing themselves and challenging the government.

Ganimat Zahid, editor of the Baku-based, pro-opposition daily "Azadlyg", was released under a presidential pardon. Zahid did not ask for the pardon; his conviction still stands. "I consider liberty my right," he said. He was held on a fabricated charge of "hooliganism."

However, another dissident journalist is still behind bars. Editor Eynulla Fatullayev was imprisoned in April 2007, a month after he published a detailed investigative report alleging that high-ranking officials in Baku had plotted the 2005 murder of journalist Elmar Huseynov. Fatullayev was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in 2008. His family received death threats this month.

And on 10 March a Baku court upheld the conviction of independent bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade, imprisoned on concocted charges of "hooliganism" and "inflicting minor bodily harm." The bloggers received two-year and two-and-a-half year sentences, respectively, in November 2009; the appeal was recently denied. They have been detained since July 2009 after a fight was set up to frame them, in which they were both assaulted. Their satirical postings on the Internet on government corruption, education and freedom of expression are widely seen as the reason for their detention.

At least three journalists are currently behind bars on false criminal charges.

Related stories on

Latest Tweet:

International campaign against Internet censorship in Chad launched by @Internet_SF - Internet Without Borders to p…

Get more stories like this

Sign up for our newsletters and get the most important free expression news delivered to your inbox.