Azerbaijani editor convicted on new charges following European court's demand to free him

Published July 06, 2010

| Associated Press

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — An Azerbaijani newspaper editor was convicted on new charges Tuesday following a European court's ruling urging his release.

The Garadag District Court in Azerbaijan's capital sentenced Eynulla Fatullayev to 2 1/2 years in prison on drug possession charges. Fatullayev said that heroin found in his prison cell in December was planted.

Fatullayev, the founder and editor of the Russian-language weekly Real Azerbaijan and the Azeri-language daily Everyday Azerbaijan, is serving an 8 1/2-year sentence after writing an article saying the ex-Soviet nation could support a U.S. attack on neighboring Iran. He was found guilty of making a terrorist threat, inciting ethnic conflict and tax evasion.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in April that Fatullayev should be freed, and ordered the Azerbaijani government to pay him compensation. Azerbaijan said it would appeal the ruling.

Fatullayev, who has been in prison since his arrest in April 2007, denounced both previous and new charges against him as fabricated and politically driven.

Azerbaijan's government has faced persistent criticism from international rights groups for its heavy-handed treatment of independent media and opposition parties.

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