Authorities Must Drop Charges Against Prominent Journalist in Azerbaijan

In August 2014, Emin Huseynov, Director of the Azerbaijani Institute for Reporter’s Freedom and Safety (IRFS), was forced into hiding in order to protect himself from Government repression. At the time Emin Huseynov was accused of tax evasion, illegal business and abuse of power, charges that Civil Rights Defenders and other international human rights organisations consider politically motivated.

Emin Huseynov sought refuge at the Swiss Embassy in Baku, where he has received protection for the last six months. Since Emin Huseynov was forced to seek protection, the authorities have targeted the IRFS itself by putting pressure on the employees and initiating a criminal case against the organisation.

“Civil Rights Defenders urges the authorities to immediately drop the bogus charges brought against Emin Huseynov and IRFS. They should also lift the travel ban imposed on him, so that he is allowed to continue his human rights work without fear or be able to leave the country if he so wishes,“ said Robert Hårdh, Executive Director, Civil Rights Defenders.

Emin Huseynov is internationally recognised for his work with promoting freedom of expression and free media in Azerbaijan. IRFS is a leading media rights organisation, which has consistently publicised violations of freedom of expression and shed light on the restrictions placed on the rights of the journalists. The latest development was not the first time that Emin Huseynov was targeted for his work. In 2008, he was threatened and beaten by the police and was hospitalised as a result of the injuries sustained during the attack.

“Emin Huseynov has become yet another victim of the continued and deliberate retaliatory campaign carried out by the authorities to silence the individuals responsible for exposing the violations of human rights in Azerbaijan by bringing spurious charges against them. Civil Rights Defenders has consistently expressed its deep concerns regarding the deterioration of the situation in Azerbaijan. We have called upon the government of Azerbaijan to meet its human rights obligations and the international community to bring pressure on the authorities to end this unprecedented crackdown. This case is no exception,“ said Robert Hårdh.

If convicted of the charges he could face a prison sentence of up to 12 years.