Today in Azerbaijan, Baku City Surakhany District Court sentenced Mehman Huseynov, chairperson of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and a blogger, to two years of imprisonment on charges of defamation. He was taken into custody in the courtroom.
As reported by Human Rights House Network.
The case against Mehman Huseynov was on charges of defamation: in particular, after his arrest on March 9 blogger said that he had been tortured by the police. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Musa Musayev, the Chief of the police department, regarded his statements as defamation.
As reported by the “Caucasian Knot”, the court has not allowed the defense to prepare the closing argument and convicted Huseynov. Lawyer Elchin Sadigov called the court’s decision as “illegal” and “politically motivated”.
Mehman Huseynov has published video reports on his Facebook page in which he documented corruption among high-ranking Azerbaijani officials. IRFS has linked his detention with his investigative journalism.
The authorities in Azerbaijan have consistently targeted Mehman Huseynov, his family, and the IRFS for several years. He was first arrested in 2012, and since then has been regularly interrogated by authorities, who have confiscated his official documents and imposed a travel ban on him. On 10 September, 2016, he was taken to a police station and interrogated and threatened with torture.
Before his arrest and imprisonment, on March 2, Mehman Huseynov made a speech during 12-year anniversary of the murder of journalist Elmar Huseynov and IRFS has issued a statement condemning the impunity of this crime.
In addition, other representatives of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety were persecuted. The previous head of the organization, a journalist Rasim Aliyev, died after an attack in Baku in August, 2015. Prior to that Emin Huseynov, the brother of Mehman Huseynov, was the head of IRFS. He was forced into hiding and moved from Azerbaijan.
IRFS has also suffered from the administrative blocking of the organisation from being able to operate in the country.
Human Rights House Network continues to gather information about the details of the case and its representative Florian Irminger addressed the meeting of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations and called for the immediate and unconditional release of Mehman Huseynov.
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