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Azerbaijani Journalists Hold Protest Fast To Demand Colleague's Release

Participants from "Yeni Musavat" who particpated in the April 20 protest
Participants from "Yeni Musavat" who particpated in the April 20 protest
BAKU -- A group of Azerbaijani journalists has held a symbolic fast in Baku to mark the fourth anniversary of the imprisonment of journalist Eynulla Fatullayev, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The April 20 action also marked the one-year anniversary of the Strasbourg-based European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that Fatullayev should be released and paid compensation.

Fatullayev was arrested in 2007 on charges of tax evasion, instigation of terror, and defamation. Despite the ECHR ruling, authorities later convicted him on drug charges and extended his prison term.

Journalist Shahvalad Chobanoglu told RFE/RL on April 20 that some 20 journalists joined the action by holding a protest in his or her office.

"We protest despite the fact there is no result," Chobanoglu said. "It's our duty and we have to [hold the demonstration]. We demand the issue [of Fatullayev's imprisonment] be kept on the agenda. It's a peaceful method of struggle in [countries ruled by] authoritarian regimes."

The slogans of the protest were "Attention! The fifth year of the arrest has started!" and "Freedom for Eynulla Fatullayev!"

Fatullayev initiated the protest but his colleagues advised him not to join it, his lawyer, Anar Qasimov, told RFE/RL.

Another protest was held in London on April 20 in which demonstrators wore masks bearing Fatullayev's face in a rally outside the Azerbaijani Embassy.

The demonstration was organized by five London-based human rights organizations: Amnesty International, Article 19, The Index on Censorship, International PEN, and the Media Diversity Institute.