May 31th 2007
President Ilham Aliyev
Office of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic
From the non-political association of writers, International PEN, I learn with alarm and dismay of the case of Eynulla Fatullayev, a journalist who has been sentenced to 2,5 years imprison and faces further charges. He was convicted for an article posted on the Internet, attributed to him, which he denies having written. He will now be prosecuted for “terrorism” under Article 214 of the Criminal Code, for which he faces another 12 years in prison. No specific details are given regarding the accusations for having given help to the Armenian Special Forces. His newspaper offices have been searched by National Security agents and sealed, while is computers and other material were seized.
It seems that the treatment of Eynulla Fatullayev is symptomatic for the general situation of journalists’ freedom to express their opinions in Azerbaijan. Human Rights Watch have documented numerous cases of violence and criminal defamation charges against journalists in Azerbaijan.
Should not Azerbaijan, as a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council, be exemplary in its protection of fundamental human rights like freedom of expression? In stead, it seems that the authorities have launched a series of politically motivated flawed trials against critical journalists, thus curtailing a living, democratic opposition.
Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee call for the immediate release of Eynullah Fatullayev and protest against the additional sentence levied against him. We call for provisions to protect his family from harassment and attacks. We would further like to express our concern about the growing repression of the media in your country, with the sentencing of a number of journalists and writers.
Your Excellency, I urge you to look into Fatullayev’s case, and other similar cases and bring about a change in official attitudes to his and his fellow writers’ activities, even when they speak against official opinions.
I thank you sincerely for your attention.
Aase Gjerdrum Carl Morten Iversen
Member of Norwegian PEN’s Writers in Prison Committee Secretary General
Cc: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Norwegian Embassy in Baku