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Azerbaijani Journalist Pleads Not Guilty To Possession Of Drugs

Eynulla Fatullayev in a Baku courtroom earlier this month
Eynulla Fatullayev in a Baku courtroom earlier this month
The trial of imprisoned journalist Eynulla Fatullayev on drug charges resumed today in a Baku court, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

Fatullayev pleaded not guilty. He said the drugs were planted in his cell before they were discovered in December.

Fatullayev described the prison where he is currently serving an 8 1/2 year term for defamation, instigation of terror, and tax evasion as "a concentration camp."

He said prison officials have also accused him of homosexual relations with prisoners, of participating in a mutiny, and added that some people have tried to kill him in jail.

Fatullayev said an official offered to secure his release on condition that he promises not to publish any further articles about Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his family, but that he refused the offer.

Fatullayev's lawyer, Isakhan Ashurov, said at today's hearing that he successfully petitioned the judge to have Fatullayev's handcuffs removed in accordance with international conventions and for him not to be kept in a steel cage in the courtroom.

International rights organizations have said the charges against Fatullayev are politically motivated.

Amnesty International considers Fatullayev a prisoner of conscience.

Fatullayev is the founder and editor in chief of the popular newspapers "Realny Azerbaijan" and "Gundelik Azerbaijan."

He was first jailed in 2007 for insulting Azerbaijanis killed by Armenian forces in the February 1992 Khojali massacre.