Azerbaijan editor freed after Twitter campaign

Jailed Azerbaijan editor Eynulla Fatullayev has been released from prison after spending four years locked up on what government critics describe as a series of trumped up charges.

Fatullayev was released on 26 May alongside other prisoners pardoned by Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev.

His release came days after a ‘mass Tweet’campaign was launched by Amnesty International, in which supporters sent pictures to Aliyev via Twitter bearing the slogan ‘Eynulla Fatullayevi azad et!”, or ‘Free Eynulla Fatullayev!”.

In 2007 Fatullayev allegedly received death threats after publishing a report on high-ranking officials ordering a criminal gang to kill Elmar Hüseynov, the editor of opposition newspaper Monitor, in March 2005.

Fatullayev, who edited the now closed newspapers Realny Azerbaijan and Gündalik Azarbaycan, was arrested in April 2007 after publishing a series of articles criticising the Azerbaijan government.

He was later convicted of supporting terrorism, inciting ethnic hatred, tax evasion and possessing illegal drugs, and sentenced to more than 80 years in prison on what Amnesty described as “trumped up’charges.

The European Court of Human Rights called for his immediate release last April and in November 2010 the Azerbaijan Supreme Court revoked many of the charges – but he remained in prison after being sentenced to more than two years for possessing drugs.

Following his unexpected release, he told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: ‘”The activities of the international community helped me, of course. [First of all] I would like to say thank you to Amnesty International, because during the past four years it continued its complicated mission [to push] for my release.

“I’m still trying to [understand] the situation,” he added. “It’s a miracle for me. I couldn’t imagine it. It’s a real surprise for me.”

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