A Baku court on March 3, 2017, sentenced Mehman Huseynov, a blogger and press freedom advocate, to two years in prison on defamation charges for alleging that police beat him, according to his lawyer and media reports.
Five plainclothes policemen dragged Huseynov into an unmarked vehicle the night of January 9, 2017, according to media reports, human rights groups, and his lawyer, Elchin Sadygov.
The following day, the Nasimi District Court in Baku fined him 200 Azerbaijani manats (US $112) on charges of resisting police, CPJ reported at the time.
During his January 10 trial, Huseynov told the judge that police had beaten him, put a plastic bag over his head, and used a stun gun on him, Sadygov, his lawyer, told CPJ. Independent journalist Khadija Ismayilova told CPJ that the blogger’s face was bruised and his shirt was covered in blood when he was released from the courthouse.
The judge ordered prosecutors to investigate the allegations, but prosecutors in Baku on February 1, 2017, refused to accept his criminal complaint against the police, according to local and regional media reports.
However, state prosecutors acted on a January 12, 2017 criminal complaint from Musa Musayev, chief police officer for Baku’s Nasimi district, and charged Huseynov with defamation for saying he had been beaten in custody. In a January 13 press release, the interior ministry said Huseynov’s allegations were "groundless" and "cast a negative light on the police."
Huseynov frequently reported on official corruption and police brutality on his Facebook and YouTube pages, which are both called Sancaq. The journalist has more than 300,000 followers on Facebook. Huseynov also ran the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, a Baku-based free speech advocacy group.
Shortly before his January 9 detention, Huseynov published a series of video reports on Azerbaijani officials’ opulent villas on Sancaq’s social media pages. On February 27, he published a video report critical of the appointment of Mehriban Aliyeva, President Ilham Aliyev’s wife, to the newly created position of first vice-president.
Azerbaijani authorities were holding Huseynov in Baku prison No. 14.
In late July 2018, media reported that Huseynov asked the prison administration for a short leave to visit his ailing mother. A group of local journalists and human rights activists seconded the request. On August 2, both requests were denied. Four days later, the journalist’s mother Firangiz Huseynova died. Huseynov was allowed to attend her funeral on August 7, 2018, according to media reports.