Eynullah FatullayevEynulla Fatullayev, editor of Gündelike Azerbaijan and the Russian language Realny Azerbaijan, is serving a sentence of eight and a half years’ imprisonment for an article published in Realny Azerbaijan.

There are widespread concerns that his sentence may be linked to his investigation into the murder of editor Elmar Huseynov in 2005. The Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN considers the continued detention of Eynulla Fatullayev to be a breach of international standards guaranteeing freedom of expression and calls for his immediate release.

Charged with terrorism and inciting ethnic hatred, Eynulla Fatullayev was convicted for an article that was published in his newspaper in which he argued that Azerbaijan’s support of the U.S. position on Iraq makes Azerbaijan more likely to be attacked by Iran. In the article he also mentions some possible Azeri targets of such an attack. The sentence, handed down on 20 October 2007 and upheld by the Azerbaijani Supreme Court on 3 June 2008, encompasses charges of tax evasion, which explains the weight of the sentence. All Realny Azerbaijan’s assets were seized by authorities and a large fine – the equivalent of US $58,000 – was imposed.

Eynulla Fatullayev has suffered arrest and imprisonment on a number of occasions in recent years. At the time of his sentencing he was already serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence, handed down on April 2007, for libel and insult for an article posted anonymously on the internet. Although the piece was attributed to him, he denies being the author.

In September 2006 Fatullayev was convicted to a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay fines on charges of defamation and insult against the interior minister. An article published in Realny Azerbaijan accused the minister of having links with a former official on trial for his alleged involvement in the murder of journalist Elmar Huseynov. Huseynov was the editor of Monitor; he was killed in 2005 and his murder remains unsolved.

Eynulla Fatullayev and his family have also suffered death threats that reportedly escalated after he reported on the murder of Elmar Huseynov. Fatullayev himself previously wrote for Monitor, the magazine edited by Huseynov, and has consistently maintained that the Baku authorities were behind the murder. In September 2008, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a report on the Huseynov killing and Fatullayev’s subsequent harassment. Eynulla Fatullayev has staged protests within prison against political imprisonment and poor prison conditions, and, according to his lawyer, was held in solitary confinement as a consequence. Fatullayev is currently held at the Correctional Facility No. 12.

On 24 April 2008 Eynulla Fatullayev received the Human Rights Watch administered Hellmann/Hammett award in recognition of his journalism in the face of persecution.

What you can do
Send letters of appeal calling for the release of Eynulla Fatullayev to:

Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
19 Istiqlaliyyat Street
Baku AZ1066
Fax: 00 994 12 492 0625
Email: president@gov.az

Copies of your appeals should also be sent to the diplomatic representative for Azerbaijan in your country.

Please send copies of any replies you may receive from the authorities to Sara Whyatt at the International PEN head office in London – address below.
For further details contact Sara Whyatt at the Writers in Prison Committee Head Office: Brownlow House, 50/51 High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER UK

Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7405 0338
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7405 0339
Email: sara.whyatt@internationalpen.org.uk