Jailed Azerbaijani journalist pardoned
Posted: 26 May 2011
Journalist had become focus of ‘mass tweet’ campaign
Prominent Azerbaijani newspaper editor Eynulla Fətullayev was released earlier today under a presidential pardon and is now at home with his family.
Amnesty had led an international campaign for his release and named him a prisoner of conscience after his arrest and imprisonment in 2007 on trumped-up charges of defamation. Last year when the European Court of Human Rights called on Azerbaijan to release him, the authorities handed him a new sentence of a further two-and-a-half years on apparently fabricated charges of drug possession.
Earlier this week scores of people - including many journalists - at the Amnesty International UK annual media awards event in London, took part in a “mass tweet” to the President of Azerbaijan, urging President Aliyev to immediately and unconditionally release Fətullayev.
Journalists and other guests were photographed holding a placard with the slogan “Eynulla Fətullayevi azad et!” - “Free Eynulla Fətullayev!” in Azeri. The images were tweeted to President Aliyev (who tweets as @presidentaz). Jon Snow of Channel 4 News and John Mulholland, editor of The Observer, were prominent amongst journalists that took part and more than 800 people participated in the action before Fətullayev was released this evening.
Speaking at home after his release, Eynulla Fətullayev said:
“I am very happy to be released. I am extremely grateful to Amnesty International, who have campaigned since the beginning. In my opinion you saved me. Thank you to all those who tweeted.”
Amnesty International Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director John Dalhuisen said:
“Eynulla Fətullayev’s pardon and release are cause for celebration, but we still urge the Azerbaijani authorities to quash his convictions.
“As we celebrate Eynulla’s release we must not forget that many others are still being held on trumped-up charges in Azerbaijani prisons for no other reason than that they have criticised the authorities.
“We are calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Azerbaijan and an end to the recent clampdown on dissenting voices, whether online or on the streets.”