New York, March 17, 2014–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns a five-year jail term given today to Tofiq Yaqublu, an Azerbaijani journalist with the opposition daily Yeni Musavat, and calls on authorities to overturn the verdict on appeal. Yaqublu, who was convicted of “organizing mass disorder,” was arrested in January 2013 in connection with anti-government protests in the town of Ismayilli. He was covering the protests at the time of his arrest, his colleagues said. The journalist is appealing the verdict.
“Azerbaijan must stop populating its prison cells with reporters like Tofiq Yaqublu,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Baku should work on improving its image, especially in light of its role in the Council of Europe. It can start by releasing Yaqublu and all other journalists imprisoned in Azerbaijan.”
Azerbaijan–which is holding at least eight journalists in relation to their work–is scheduled to assume the rotating presidency of the Committee of Ministers in the Council of Europe in May. All of the council’s members have signed the European Convention on Human Rights, a treaty that protects human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.