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Jailed Azerbaijani Journalist Appeals To President Aliyev


Journalist Eynulla Fatullayev in court in June 2010

Journalist Eynulla Fatullayev in court in June 2010

BAKU -- The jailed chief editor of the former newspaper "Gundalik Azerbaijan," Eynulla Fatullayev, has sent a letter to President Ilham Aliyev expressing hope that he will be released, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Fatullayev's lawyer, Anar Qasimov, told RFE/RL the journalist asked Aliyev to intervene in the complicated situation around Fatullayev's case and "expressed hope he will be released as the issue is connected directly to the president."

The European Council's Ministerial Committee recently urged the Azerbaijani authorities to consider all means available to release Fatullayev, including the possibility of a conditional release.

The journalist's father, Emin Fatullayev, told RFE/RL that such requests will not bring any results until Aliyev gets personally involved in the issue.

Zalimkhan Yaqub, of the presidential pardoning commission, told RFE/RL there is no scheduled date for the commission's next meeting. But he said if the commission receives an appeal for a pardon from Fatullayev then it will be discussed.

Fatullayev was sentenced in 2007 to 8 1/2 years in jail on multiple charges, which he says were fabricated in retaliation for his published articles criticizing the authorities.

In April 2010, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Fatullayev should be released and paid 25,000 euros compensation as the Azerbaijani government had violated his rights to freedom of expression and a fair trial.

On October 4, the ECHR's Grand Chamber upheld the ruling after the Azerbaijani government appealed it.

The Azerbaijani Supreme Court revoked some of the charges against Fatullayev, but he remained jailed for a conviction of drug possession while in prison.
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