In the world 15:47 23/03/2013

Reporters Without Borders: After his release from prison Fatullajev went over to government

As soon as President Ilham Aliyev granted Eynulla Fatullajev a pardon in 2011, the human rights defender published reports that are conspicuously pro-governmental in their stance, the statement of international human rights organization Reporters Without Borders says.

“Reporters Without Borders” is appalled at the harsh action the Azerbaijani regime is taking against its critics in the run-up to the presidential election this autumn,” the statement says.

Reporters Without Borders state that it distances itself from dubious attempts to create an anti-European mood in the country and thus weaken the opposition. One example of this is a supposed "study" done by Eynulla Fatullajev called “Decline of Europe,” which allegedly the organization upholded.

"We were in no way involved in this study - contrary to what it claims - and consider it absolutely disproportionate to compare human rights abuses in Germany with those in Azerbaijan," Christian Mihr, Executive Director of the German section of Reporters without Borders, stressed in Berlin.

Fattulayev presented his "study", from which Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International and many other quoted persons have since distanced themselves, in Brussels in January 2013.

“A few days later the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe rejected a resolution calling for the release of political prisoners in Azerbaijan by a large majority and instead merely passed a general declaration on the state of human rights in the country. The German Rapporteur Christoph Strässer attributed this to massive lobbying on the Azerbaijani side. The European Stability Initiative had already described this type of lobbying in detail in a report titled "Caviar Diplomacy" published in May 2012,”the statement says.

"We note with consternation that even former critics of the regime are now being roped in for this," Reporters Without Borders’ director Mihr commented.

According to the statement seven months before the presidential elections take place in October, critical journalists and media are being subjected to enormous pressure in Azerbaijan. On March 12, a court in Baku sentenced Avaz Zeynalli, the chief editor of Khural newspaper, to nine years in prison. Further criminal proceedings are underway against Hilal Mammedov, chief editor of the minority newspaper Tolishi Sado(Voice of Talish) and other journalists. The most important opposition newspaper in the country, Azadliq, is on the brink of bankruptcy owing to hefty fines imposed as a result of defamation cases.

“At least nine journalists were arrested on January 26 for taking part in non-authorised street protests in Baku, including Khadija Ismayilova, a reporter who has attracted international attention for her research into abuses of power and corruption, and blogger Emin Milli. The penalties for participating in unauthorised gatherings had already been substantially increased prior to the protests. On March 11 President Ilham Aliyev signed further changes to the law, limiting the freedom of assembly and making the work of civil society organizations more difficult,” the document reads.

Reporters Without Borders sees Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev as one of the worst predators of press freedom worldwide. The southern Caucasian country ranks 156th out of 179 states in Reporters Without Borders’ current Press Freedom Index.

Note that the editor in chief and founder of the newspaper "Real Azerbaijan" and "Gundalik Azerbaijan" Eynulla Fatullajev was released from Azerbaijani prison on May 26, 2011, after more than four years of imprisonment. He was subjected to repressions after admitting that the Armenians did not kill the residents of Khojalu.

The in late January, international human rights organization “Amnesty International”, stopped working with him, believing that Fatullajev is working on the Azerbaijani authorities.

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