Azeri online activists framed for hooliganism and put in prison

By EDRi · July 15, 2009

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Deutsch: [Azeri Online-Aktivisten wird Hooligmanismus angehängt – Haftstrafen |]

Two young Azeri bloggers – Emin Abdullayev (Milli), one of the founders of
AN Network, a grass roots youth movement and Adnan Hajizada, a video-blogger
from OL! Youth Movement – have been arrested by the police after they have
been attacked by two persons in a restaurant and now are charged with

The two bloggers that are usually strong critics of the Azerbaijan
government for its anti-democratic practices were involved, on 8 July, in a
fight in a restaurant where two men assaulted them.

This looked like a fabricated case of hooliganism after the two bloggers
tried to go to the police, but they were redirected to a different station.
Both activists were injured, with a cut on his leg for Milli and a broken
nose for Hajizada. In the end, the activists and the attackers were brought
to the Baku Police Department where the two attackers were released, but the
police arrested Hajizada for 48 hours, as a suspect in this case. The other
activist, Milli, protested to this decision and therefore was also arrested.

Human rights activist Leyla Yunus explained for Radio Free Europe that the
modus operandi leads her to conclude the whole incident could have been
planned by the special services and police. She cited the case of Qanimat
Zahid, editor in chief of the “Azadliq” newspaper, who was sentenced to four
years in prison on hooliganism charges after being attacked by an unknown

In a closed trial on 10 July 2009 at the Sabail District Court of Baku,
the judge decided to keep the two activists in pre-trial detention for two
months. They are accused of “domestic group hooliganism” and received the
harshest possible sanction, even though they had no criminal record.

As an irony of the present situation, the German Human Rights Commissioner
Günter Nooke visited Azerbaijan on 10 July when Emin Milli was scheduled to
be his freelance interpreter. Instead, Günter Nooke went to court to try to
help Milli but, as other 150 people, he was not allowed to attend the trial.
The judge did not accept any witnesses or the attackers to be heard and
decided to keep the two activists in prison. During the detention time, they
will be allowed to contact only their lawyers.

Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesman Sadig Gyozalov claimed that the
incident was ordinary hooliganism and “it should not be politicized”. He
also insisted that ” This is an act of hooliganism happening on everyday

Several European Embassies, such as the German and Norwegian ones, have
expressed their concern on this event, but they were accused by local
authorities of interfering with local affairs.

Several protests have been initiated by local and international NGOs asking
for the immediate release of the two online activists.

Youth Activists Arrested In Azerbaijan (9.07.2009)

Azerbaijan: Youth activists, blogger, beaten and detained (8.07.2009)

Azeri blogger detained, oil major presses case (12.07.2009)

Beaten activists sentenced for two months while investigation goes on

Azerbaijan: Youth activist, prominent blogger imprisoned after trial behind
closed doors (12.07.2009)

Video – Emin Milli and Adnan Haji-zadeh at Police Station (8.07.2009)

EDRi-gram: ENDitorial: Regulating online media in Azerbaijan? (17.07.2009)