Elchin Gambarov, also a member of Zakhidov’s defense team, told CPJ that Bailovsk prison doctors only briefly examined Zakhidov before sending him back to his cell—a small, poorly ventilated unit that he shares with three other inmates.
Baku police arrested Zakhidov on June 23 and charged him with carrying 10 grams of heroin. He faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted. Colleagues believe that Zakhidov’s arrest was in retaliation for satirical columns in Azadliq in which he criticized the Azerbaijani government and President Ilham Aliyev.
Azadliq Editor-in-Chief Qanimat Zakhidov, and other opposition journalists accused the authorities of planting drugs on Zakhidov to silence him, according to local press reports. CPJ sources noted that the journalist had told colleagues that he feared arrest for his work.
Zakhidov’s lawyers are yet to gain access to supporting evidence against their client, Khasayev told Turan.
“We are concerned about the deteriorating health of Sakit Zakhidov, who is not receiving adequate medical care in jail,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said. “We call on authorities to release him pending the police investigation and allow his lawyers to review all evidence against him. Given Zakhidov’s critical commentary, we view those charges with extreme skepticism.”