New York, April 11, 2019 -- Azerbaijani authorities should immediately lift travel restrictions on blogger Mehman Huseynov, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On April 9, Huseynov, who is also the chair of the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety, a Baku-based free speech organization, was stopped by customs officials in Heydar Aliyev International Airport and prevented from boarding a flight to Berlin, according to a Facebook post by Huseynov and a report by the U.S. Congress-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Azeri-language service.
Huseynov, who often reports on official corruption and police brutality, was released from prison on March 2 after serving two years for defamation for alleging that he was beaten by police, according to RFE/RL and CPJ reporting.
A customs official told Huseynov that the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office had banned him from leaving the country, according to the journalist's Facebook post.
"Mehman Huseynov, who already was subject to a bogus two years in prison, has every right to travel, take part in, and contribute to international events and conversations," said CPJ's Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Gulnoza Said. "Azerbaijani authorities should immediately revoke all travel restrictions and respect Huseynov's and other journalists' right to freedom of movement."
Huseynov was slated to attend the Council of Europe's conference on international nongovernmental organizations in Strasbourg, France, as well as several other events across Europe, according to a statement from the Council of Europe.
CPJ emailed the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office for comment but did not receive a reply.
The blogger was banned from leaving the country in 2013, when he was detained at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport and then transferred to a police station where he was ordered to sign a pledge not to leave Azerbaijan, as CPJ reported at the time.