New York, July 20, 2017–A Baku court today convicted Russian-Israeli blogger Aleksandr Lapshin to three years in jail for illegally crossing the state border, international and Azerbaijani media reported. The charges are related to three trips that Lapshin made between April 2011 and June 2016 to the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which Azerbaijan and Armenia both claim as their territory, the reports said. The blogger’s lawyer Eduard Chernin said that Lapshin will appeal, The Associated Press reported.
“Aleksandr Lapshin should not be in jail for traveling to a disputed region,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “We call on authorities in Baku not to contest the journalist’s appeal and to release him unconditionally.”
Lapshin, who writes a travel blog, was detained in Belarus on December 15, 2016 and extradited to Azerbaijan on February 7, at the request of the Azerbaijani authorities, CPJ documented earlier this year. The court dropped an extra charge of making anti-state calls to the public, due to “lack of evidence,” media reported.