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Jailed journalist sentenced on "bogus" heroin charges

Well-known Azeri journalist Eynulla Fatullayev, serving over eight years in jail on trumped up charges of terrorism, defamation, incitement of ethnic hatred and tax evasion, just got another charge – illegal possession of a narcotic – added to the list. The Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety (IRFS), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other IFEX organisations expressed their indignation over Fatullayev's latest charge, which IRFS is calling "bogus".

On 6 July, a court in the Baku district of Garadag found Fatullayev guilty of possessing 220 mg of heroin, which prison officials alleged they found in a search of the journalist's cell in December. The court sentenced the 33-year-old to an additional 30 months, extending an imprisonment considered unlawful by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and free expression and human rights groups around the world.

"The drug charges brought against Fatullayev was a planned set up in order for the court to not comply with the decision of the ECHR," said IRFS. The organisation monitored Fatullayev's latest trial and reports many inconsistencies and contradictions in the proceedings.

Eynulla Fatullayev founded and edited two popular newspapers, "Realny Azerbaijan" and "Gundelik Azerbaijan," before they were shut down by authorities in 2007. Fatullayev, who was arrested that year, also accused senior level officials of ordering the assassination of journalist Elmar Huseynov.

The additional charge comes as a slap in the face to the ECHR, which overturned Fatullayev's convictions on 22 April, demanded Fatullayev's immediate release and ordered the government of Azerbaijan to pay him € 27,822 in compensation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Related stories on ifex.org
  • Imprisoned editor sentenced to an additional two and a half years in prison

    In what are believed to be politically motivated charges, a criminal case was launched against Eynulla Fatullayev after heroin was allegedly found on his person in prison.

  • Jailed journalist carries out hunger strike; European Court orders his release

    An imprisoned Azerbaijani journalist began a hunger strike on 2 June to draw attention to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in April saying he should be immediately released, report the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The ECHR stated the journalist had been wrongfully imprisoned for exercising his right to free expression. Last week, Index on Censorship and ARTICLE 19 joined other rights groups at a demonstration calling for an end to his persecution. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC) and other IFEX members have urged the Azerbaijani government to follow the ECHR's decision.



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