Reporters Without Borders is pleased that US President Barack Obama called on his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, to free imprisoned bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hadjizade when the two leaders had a bilateral meeting during the UN General Assembly session in New York on 24 September.
The White House said Obama urged Aliyev to free the two bloggers as part of an increased effort to protect human rights and implement democratic reforms. Both the families of the bloggers and Reporters Without Borders (in a 23 September letter) had asked Obama to press for their release.
Obama urged to press Aliyev for release of journalist and two bloggers
Reporters Without Borders wrote to US President Barack Obama asking him to request the release of journalist Eynulla Fatullayev and bloggers Adnan Hadjizade and Emin Milli when he meets with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev during tomorrow’s session of the United Nations General Assembly. Read the letter.
The families of the two bloggers have also addressed an open letter to President Obama and their support committee has launched a petition calling for their immediate release. Sign the petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/free-adnan-hajizada-and-emin-milli/
The hearing about Adnan Hadjizade’s request for early release will take place on 1 October.
Supreme court refuses to hear petition by jailed bloggers
Azerbaijan’s supreme court has refused to consider a petition by jailed bloggers Adnan Hadjizade and Emin Milli for their release and for the prosecution of the arresting police officers and the prosecutor who fabricated the case on which they were convicted.
The decision to reject the request and to keep the two bloggers in prison was issued by supreme court president Ali Seyfaliyev. Their lawyers have said they will now take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Stubborn authorities refuse to free jailed blogger who qualifies for parole
Reporters Without Borders condemns the insistence of the authorities in keeping bloggers Adnan Hadjizade and Emin Milli in prison. A court in the Baku district of Garadag today refused to grant Hadjizade the early conditional release for which he qualifies after completing half of his 24-month jail sentence.
Prison director Ali Nabiyev and his deputy opposed his release on the grounds that he was conflictive, did not do enough prison work and met with his lawyer too often. A similar hearing will probably be held for Milli in October, when he will have completed half of his 30-month sentence.
Arrested in Baku on 8 July 2009, Hadjizade and Milli were convicted on 11 November on clearly trumped-up charges of hooliganism and “deliberate physical violence.”
Their lawyer has appealed to the supreme court, which is due to examine their case on 10 August. The judicial farce is continuing despite the support they have been getting from the international community and the calls for their release that have been voiced by such people as US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and EU commissioner for human rights Thomas Hammarberg.
First anniversary of arrest of bloggers Adnan Hadjizade and Emin Milli
On the first anniversary of the arrest of bloggers Adnan Hadjizade and Emin Milli, Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for their immediate release and voices deep exasperation with the Azerbaijani government’s intransigence.
“Arrested on trumped-up charges designed to make them look like criminals, these two bloggers are being persecuted for making fun of corrupt politicians in a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aaecvg7xCIk),” Reporters Without Borders said. “The international community is pressing for their release but the authorities are turning a deaf ear and are continuing to openly violate the right to free expression. The pressure must be maintained until their conviction is overturned and they are freed.”
Hadjizade is a video blogger and member of the apolitical “OL! Youth Movement” while Milli is one of the founders of a collective called “The Alumni Network.” They were arrested in Baku on 8 July 2009 for allegedly assaulting two individuals in a restaurant although in reality they were the ones who were attacked.
Convicted on charges of hooliganism and “deliberate physical violence,” they were sentenced by a court in the Baku district of Sabail on 11 November 2009 to 24 and 30 months in prison respectively.
A Baku appeal court upheld their conviction on 10 March. Their lawyer, Isahan Ashurov, has appealed to the supreme court, which is due to hear the case in mid-August. If necessary, Ashurov plans to take it to the European Court of Human Rights.
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton raised their case with the authorities during a visit on 4 July, calling for their release. Many human rights organisations and international bodies such as the European Parliament, Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Council of Europe have also condemned their arrest and imprisonment.
The Adnan Hadjizade and Emin Milli Support Committee has just launched a new action campaign. Go to the www.adnanemin.com website and the videopetition.blogspot.com blog for more information and to sign the petition.
Photos and video of the rally organised by the Support Committee and Reporters Without Borders outside the Azerbaijani embassy in Paris on 22 January are available here: http://en.rsf.org/azerbaijan-another-adjournment-in-case-of-22-01-2010,36188.html