New York, April 4, 2018--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Ukrainian prosecutors to return the passport of Fikret Huseynli, a Dutch national of Azerbaijani origin, and to respect a district court's April 2 ruling that the journalist should not be extradited to Azerbaijan or have his movements restricted.
Earlier on the day that the judge ruled, Kiev prosecutor Serhiy Ostapets took Huseynli's passport from a court secretary and left the courtroom, according to reports. Ostapets has refused to return the passport or give a reason for confiscating it, according to the Kiev-based Institute for Mass Information and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.
CPJ's phone calls to the Kiev regional prosecutor's office went unanswered.
"Kiev's regional prosecutor's office should immediately return Firket Huseynli's passport and comply with the district court's ruling that the journalist be allowed to move freely," CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. "Ukraine must not succumb to the demands of Azerbaijan's authoritarian regime, which is notorious for persecuting critics both at home and abroad."
Huseynli, a correspondent for the opposition-leaning online Azerbaijani television channel Turan TV, was detained in Kiev in October last year, while Ukraine investigated an extradition request from Azerbaijan, according to news reports.