Azeri bloggers released from prison

By EDRi · December 1, 2010

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: [Azeri Blogger freigelassen |]

After a long and continuous pressure from several civil society groups and
European international organisations such as the European Parliament, the
Presidency of the European Union, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe (PACE), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE), Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders, the US President
Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, the two Azeri bloggers
arrested in 2009 on false pretences of hooliganism, have been finally
released from prison.

A Baku court released Emin Milli on 18 November 2010, one day after his
friend Adnan Hajizade’s release. The court however did not release them on
account of their innocence; it just suspended the rest of their sentence (14
months out of the entire 30 and 24 months sentence respectively).

The decision was welcomed by Reporters Without Borders which, however,
expressed its disappointment for the fact that the bloggers had not been
cleared. “We nonetheless regret that his conviction has not been quashed as
we have always insisted that he was arrested for exercising the right to
free expression and was jailed on grotesque charges after a sham trial. The
vigilance must not let up and the campaigning must continue in order to
protect him from any kind of harassment or intimidation by the authorities
and to obtain the release of Milli and Fatullayev,” stated the organisation.

After his release, Hajizade reaffirmed his innocence and said he would
remain in Azerbaijan and continue his blogging. “I am not guilty and will
demand full rehabilitation. Freedom is my right,” he said. Adnan Hajizade
and Emin Milli’s lawyers have submitted their case to the European Court of
Human Rights hoping to overturn their conviction and be declared innocent.

On this occasion, pressure for all sides continues for the release of
newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev who has been imprisoned since April
2007 for his political convictions, on false pretences as well. On 22 April
2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the journalist had been
illegally detained and asked for his immediate release. The Azeri
supreme court partially complied with the European Court ruling by rejecting
his conviction on charges of terrorism and inciting hatred. Yet, the court
still retained the earlier conviction on charges of tax fraud and possession
of heroin.

Blogger Emin Milli freed in his turn (only in French, 19.11.2010),38840.html

Azerbaijan: ‘Donkey bloggers’ released (19.11.2010)

Second blogger freed, one day after his colleague (19.11.2010),38841.html

Supreme court partially accepts European court ruling but refuses to free
journalist (12.11.2010),38761.html

EDRi-gram: Azeri bloggers appeal rejected by the Supreme Court(25.08.2010)