Reporters Without Borders wrote to the Minister of Justice

Monsieur Fikret Mamedov, Justice Ministry
Inshaatchilar ave. 1, Baku City, Azerbaijan

Paris, 16th July 2009

Dear Minister,

Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, would like to draw your attention to the case of two bloggers, Adnan Hadji Zadeh and Emin Milli, who were arrested in Baku on 8 July and were placed in two months’ pretrial detention on hooliganism charges under article le 222.1 of the criminal code when they appeared before Sabail court Judge Rauf Ahmadov two days later.

We believe that the charges brought against them are baseless. Furthermore, the 10 July hearing was brought forward for no good reason, and the court took no account of what their lawyers had to say in their defence. These are serious violations of their basic rights. We urge you to contact the prosecutor with a view to getting these charges dropped immediately.

Shortly before their arrest, Mr. Zadeh and Mr. Milli were assaulted by two men, Babek Huseynov and Vusal Mammadov. The police arrested the two assailants but then released them and arrested the two bloggers instead.

Mr. Zadeh is a video blogger and member of the “Ol” opposition movement, while Mr. Milli is one of the founders of a youth group called “The Alumni Network”. Mr. Zadeh’s nose was broken in the attack, while Mr. Milli sustained injuries to a leg and other parts of the body. They have not received the medical treatment they need.

We would like to know the real reasons for the arrest of Mr. Zadeh and Mr. Milli, who are facing a possible five-year jail sentence. An application for their release was filed on 13 July. We urge you to examine the case as we believe the dismissal of the charges would send a strong signal of a desire to improve respect for free expression and human rights.

Under article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to freedom is subject to only a few legal exceptions and people may be detained only in certain precise circumstances, for example, where they are suspected of having committed crimes or when a court has sentenced them to imprisonment. Such circumstances do not exist in this case.

The Convention also provides for the right of rapid recourse to a court to determine the legality of an arrest or detention, and for the right to be tried within a reasonable period or to be freed pending trial. The 10 July hearing did not satisfy these rights. Mr. Zadeh and Mr. Milli had access to their lawyers but the court paid no heed to their lawyers and did hear the testimony of their relatives, who witnessed the assault.

According to their lawyers, the judge’s decision to detain them was illegal because there is no evidence that Mr. Zadeh and Mr. Milli committed any offence.

We trust you will give this matter your careful consideration.


Jean-François Julliard
Secretary-General, Reporters Without Borders

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