Azerbaijan, Baku /corr. Trend K.Ramazanova / The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, criticized today the eight-and-a-half year combined prison sentence handed down to an Azerbaijani journalist, founder of the newspapers Realny Azerbaijan and Gundelik Azerbaijan, Eynulla Fatullayev.
"Fatullayev's combined long-term conviction on four different counts is a textbook example of arbitrary use of repressive laws with the aim of criminalizing journalism and silencing critical voices. This practice is a gross violation of OSCE commitments on press freedoms," said Haraszti in his statement.
Azerbaijan's Court for Grave Crimes convicted Eynulla Fatullayev for libel, insult, incitement to ethnic hatred, threat of terrorism and tax evasion on 30 October. Fatullayev, a well-known journalist, is the founder of the newspapers Realny Azerbaijan and Gundelik Azerbaijan.
"The trial is the culmination of a campaign to silence Fatullayev and to eliminate the country's two largest circulation newspapers," Haraszti said.
"Journalists must be given the freedom to have their work be judged by their peers and the public, also if it is judgemental, provocative, or even irresponsible," stressed Haraszti.
Fatullayev, detained since April 2007, is one of seven journalists currently imprisoned in Azerbaijan on defamation and other charges.