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02 août 2010

AZERBAIDJAN: Condamnation du journaliste Eynulla Fatullayev


"Nous avons appris avec préoccupation la condamnation du journaliste azerbaidjanais Eynulla Fatullayev à une nouvelle peine d’emprisonnement de deux ans et demi. Cette décision intervient après que la Cour européenne des Droits de l’homme de Strasbourg a rendu le 22 avril son jugement sur cette affaire et ordonné sa libération immédiate ainsi que l’octroi à l’intéressé d’une compensation financière.

Nous appelons les autorités azerbaïdjanaises à se conformer aux engagements auxquels elles ont souscrit dans le cadre de la Convention européenne des Droits de l’homme et à mettre en oeuvre le jugement de la Cour européenne des Droits de l’homme.

La France rappelle son attachement au respect des libertés fondamentales, notamment à la liberté d’expression et au droit des journalistes d’exercer librement leur métier."

in english:

Eynulla Fatullayev, a 32-year-old Azeri journalist and former editor-in-chief of the popular independent Azeri newspapers Realny Azerbaijan and Gundalik Azarbaycan, has long been victimised by the Azeri authorities for his critical reporting. He is currently serving an eight-and-a-half-year prison term. The charges under which Fatullayev has been convicted are considered spurious by both Azeri journalists and international human rights organisations.

Incidents of judicial harassment against Fatullayev date as far back as 2000, during his time as an editor at the Milletin Sesi and Monitor newspapers. By 2001, Fatullayev was already facing several lawsuits related to articles he had written, and in both 2002 and 2003 he was found guilty of criminal defamation and fined for articles he had written criticising the government.

Pressure increased on Fatullayev following the murder of his journalist colleague Elmar Huseynov in 2005. Fatullayev investigated and reported on financial links between the Interior Minister, Ramil Usubov, and a former public official believed by some to have been involved in Huseynov's murder. Usubov launched criminal defamation charges against Fatullayev under articles 147(2) and 148 of the Azeri criminal code in 2006, and Fatullayev received a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay US$ 11,500 in damages.

This conviction almost led to the closure of Realny Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, Fatullayev continued to report on government corruption and the lack of will to locate and bring to justice those responsible for the murder of Huseynov. Death threats against Fatullayev and his family culminated in October 2006 with the kidnapping of his father, whose safe return was made on the condition that Fatullayev cease the publication of Realny Azerbaijan. Fatullayev shut down the newspaper, but recommenced operations two months later, acknowledging the risk he was taking as his father's kidnappers were still at large.

Harassment by the authorities continued unabated and, on 20 April 2007, Fatullayev was imprisoned for defaming the Azeri nation in an internet post attributed to him. The post referred to the 1992 massacre of Azeri citizens in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, stating that Azerbaijanis themselves were responsible for the killings. Fatullayev denied writing the post, but was nevertheless sentenced to 30 months in prison for libelling and insulting the Azeri people.

The victimisation of Fatullayev did not stop once he was imprisoned. In May 2007, new charges were brought against him under Article 214 of the Criminal Code for "calling for terrorism", with the authorities claiming that Fatullayev had assisted the Armenian Special Forces. Then, in July of the same year, fresh charges were made by the Ministry of National Security (MNB), this time for "incitement to ethnic and religious hatred." These charges related to an earlier editorial in Realny Azerbaijan in which Fatullayev, writing under a pseudonym, criticised President Ilham Aliyev's foreign policy regarding neighbouring Iran. Finally, in September 2007, the MNB added tax-evasion to the growing list of charges against Fatullayev.

Fatullayev has been found guilty of all charges, and is currently at the beginning of an eight-and-a-half year sentence. In addition, both Realny Azerbaijan and the Gundalik Azarbaycan are no longer in print. The premises of both newspapers were raided by the authorities, the staff interrogated and evicted, and all computers confiscated.

The OSCE and the Council of Europe have both pointed to the persecution of Fatullayev, and called for his immediate release. Unfortunately, their calls have not been heeded. Fatullayev's appeals have been rejected by the highest courts in Azerbaijan, and his only remaining legal recourse is to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights, a lengthy process.

others links/autres liens about  :


Amnesty International USA


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