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Family of imprisoned journalist receives threatening phone call

(IRFS/IFEX) - On 10 April 2011, the family of imprisoned journalist Eynulla Fatullayev received death threats via a telephone call. The caller also claimed that Fatullayev had already been killed, his father Emin Fatullayev told Objective TV. Emin reported that around 6:40 am a woman phoned their house and introduced herself as a Justice Ministry employee.

"After she told us that Eynulla was dead, she said that my wife and I would also be killed either today or tomorrow. It took me 10 minutes to understand what was going on. Then I called the 102 police service. I reported the call and asked that it be investigated," he said, adding that he is willing to meet with Interior Minister Ramil Usubov to discuss the incident.

Eynulla Fatullayev's lawyer, Anar Gasimov, met with the journalist on 11 April. The lawyer told the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) that he informed Fatullayev about the anonymous telephone threat to his family. According to Gasimov, the journalist sent an appeal to Interior Minister Usubov and asked that it be investigated.

IRFS strongly condemns the threatening phone call to the family of the imprisoned editor-in-chief of "Gundelik Azebaijan" and "Realniy Azerbaidjan" and considers it to be psychological torment against the journalist.

IRFS believes that these types of threatening phone calls are directly targeted at Fatullayev, aimed at keeping him under pressure. Further, the fact that the caller introduced herself as a Justice Ministry representative proves that this is of a provocative nature.

IRFS calls on Azerbaijan's law-enforcement agencies to immediately investigate the incident and punish the guilty parties. IRFS also calls on the Azerbaijani government to immediately release Fatullayev in order to abide by the obligations it took in the field of freedom of speech. IRFS calls on the international community to speed up its efforts to release Fatullayev.


BACKGROUND:

On 29 December 2009, 0.223 grams of heroin was reportedly found on Fatullayev in Prison #12 and on 6 July 2010, Fatullayev was found guilty under article 234.1 (possession of narcotics) of the Criminal Code. His sentence of two years and six months in prison began on the same day. His appeal against the decision was rejected.

In 2007, Fatullayev was sentenced to 8.5 years in jail for terrorism, amongst other charges. However, on 22 April 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled for his immediate release and financial compensation from the Azerbaijani government (27,800 EUR). The Azerbaijani Supreme Court Plenum has only partially fulfilled the requirements of that decision.

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