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Eynulla Fatullayev awarded UNESCO/Cano Prize

Eynulla Fatullayev, center, is pictured with CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Nina Ognianova, and research associate Muzaffar Suleymanov at the 2011 International Press Freedom Awards in New York. (CPJ)

Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev has been named 2012 laureate of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, UNESCO announced yesterday.

Fatullayev, independent editor of the now closed newspapers Realny Azerbaijan and Gündalik Azarbaycan, was imprisoned on fabricated charges in April 2007 after publishing an in-depth piece highly critical of the official investigation into the murder of his former boss and mentor, Elmar Huseynov. Sentenced to eight and a half years, had another two and a half years added to his term in 2009. Baku defied a March 2010 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights which ordered his immediate release. In 2009, CPJ honored Fatullayev with an International Press Freedom Award. He was finally released with a presidential pardon in 2011.

"Throughout his career, he has unfailingly and steadfastly spoken out for freedom of the press and freedom of expression," UNESCO said in awarding Fatullayev the prize.

Fatullayev described his time in prison and how international advocacy can make a difference in winning the freedom of jailed journalists in this interview with CPJ's Nina Ognianova, as well as in this video.

CPJ has recently urged Azerbaijan to reverse press crackdown as Baku prepares to host the international Eurovision song contest in May.

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