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Azerbaijan editor freed on presidential pardon after 4 years in prison

Realny Azerbaijan editor Eynulla Fatullayev was finally released May 26 on a presidential pardon after four years in prison.

“We share the joy of Eynulla Fatullayev’s family and colleagues,” Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said after confirming that he arrived at his home at around 6 p.m. May 26. “He had become the symbol of abuse of authority by a regime that used every kind of ploy to keep him in prison as long as possible. The pardon is just one more act by an all-powerful government. It will not compensate for the four years he spent in prison just for doing his job.”

New York-based press freedom group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said. "The release of Eynulla Fatullayev is a victory against injustice, yet it cannot make up for the four years he was imprisoned for no other crime than doing his job. We continue to call on Azerbaijani authorities to abide by their international press freedom commitments and refrain from jailing journalists in retaliation for their work."

Fatullayev described his release to the RSF Baku correspondent, who went to his house last night to celebrate with him.

“The prison director came to see me and told me to gather up my belongings,” he said. “At first I thought it was another provocation. But then I was asked to sign my release (...) and I was sent home.” Fatullayev thanked all the international bodies and NGOs that kept calling for his release. “The international pressure had a very big impact,” he told RSF by phone.

“I am definitely going to resume working as journalist but I do not yet know if it will be in Azerbaijan or abroad,” he added. “I will first see whether the conditions exist for me to be able to work in my country, especially from the security point of view. If they do not, I will be forced to go into exile.”

This is a historic moment inasmuch as Azerbaijan no longer has any journalist from the “traditional” media behind bars. There has nonetheless been an increase in harassment of the media during the past two months are so. Journalists with opposition media, especially Azadlig, are constantly being hounded and several youth activists and bloggers are currently serving jail sentences.

Date posted: May 27, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 94