In Azerbaijan, Eynulla Fatullayev and family threatened

New York, March 17, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Azerbaijani authorities today to thoroughly investigate a death threat made against imprisoned editor Eynulla Fatullayev, a 2009 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award, and his family. 

An anonymous male caller telephoned Emin Fatullayev, the editor’s father, at his Baku home at around 12:30 p.m. today and said he and his son must “shut up once and for all” or “the entire family will be destroyed,” the elder Fatullayev told CPJ. He said he immediately reported the threat to police.

“We are outraged that Eynulla Fatullayev’s family should receive a death threat even as he is serving a jail sentence on trumped-up charges,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “These criminal threats must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible brought to justice.”

Earlier this month, Eynulla Fatullayev issued a statement from prison concerning the March 2, 2005, murder of his boss and mentor Elmar Huseynov. In the statement, initially reported by the independent Azerbaijani news agency Turan, Fatullayev said he had information that a high-ranking official in the country’s Ministry of National Security (MNB) had plotted Huseynov’s murder.

Fatullayev had covered the unsolved murder of Huseynov extensively before his imprisonment. CPJ has concluded that Fatullayev’s imprisonment was in reprisal for that coverage.

Also today, Turan Director Mehman Aliyev was summoned to the MNB’s Baku headquarters, where he was questioned about the imprisoned editor’s statement, according to the local press freedom group Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety.