New York, May 26, 2011–The release today of independent editor Eynulla Fatullayev in Azerbaijan on a presidential pardon is a welcome and well overdue development, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“The release of Eynulla Fatullayev is a victory against injustice, yet it cannot make up for the four years he was imprisoned for no other crime than doing his job,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “We continue to call on Azerbaijani authorities to abide by their international press freedom commitments and refrain from jailing journalists in retaliation for their work.”
Fatullayev, editor of the now closed newspapers Realny Azerbaijan and Gündalik Azarbaycan, was imprisoned in April 2007 shortly after publishing an in-depth piece highly critical of the official probe into the murder of his former boss and mentor, Elmar Huseynov. Following a series of spurious charges, authorities jailed Fatullayev, sentencing him to eight and a half years. In 2009, he was slammed with another trumped-up indictment that added two and a half years to his term. Authorities continued to hold Fatullayev, defying 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. Fatullayev’s release follows intense advocacy by a number of press freedom groups, including CPJ.