Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend corr. К.Ramazanova / The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry was surprised by the reaction of the State Department spokesman on the sentencing of Eynulla Fatullayev to eight years and six months in prison.
Eynulla Fatullayev, editor-in-chief of the Gundalik Azerbaijan and Realni Azerbaijan newspapers was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison by the decision of the Heinous Crimes Court on 30 October.
The human rights watch considers such a verdict reflective of the government's growing hostility towards the freedom of expression of opinion and the freedom of the press.
The sentence was read in the Heinous Crimes Court of Azerbaijan on 30 October 2007. Fatullayev was charged with violating Articles 214.1 (terrorism), 283.2.2 (hostility) and 213.2.2 (tax evasion) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan. Fatullayev allegedly did not pay tax in the amount of AZN 242,522.
Eynulla Fatullayev was charged as a result of articles published in his newspapers by the lawsuit of Tatyana Chaladzeh, head of the State Committee on Refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDP) on 20 April.
The United States Department spokesman, Tom Kacy, reported that the accusation of terrorism and the sentence in eight years and six months in prison was the attempt to make the freedom of speech to shut up.
"Fatullayev was detained by the court of the first instance in compliance with the Azerbaijani Republic legislation," is stated in the Interior Ministry's statement.
As to the allegation that prosecuting Mr. Fatullayev under anti-terrorism laws indicates a fear of the fundamental freedom of speech, it is simply wrong
Azerbaijan takes the issue of fighting terrorism very seriously and is an active member of the anti-terrorism coalition. Government of Azerbaijan's policy is based on promotion of peace, democracy, and prosperity in the country. And this is a conscious choice.
Fatullayev is the eight detained for expression of opinion journalist in Azerbaijan.