“Gülen connection“ cited as newspaper accountant is jailed in Azerbaijan

by Jane Whyatt

A court in Azerbaijan has sentenced Faiq Amarli, the financial director of daily “Azadliq”, to three years and three months in jail. “Azadliq” is a business-focussed national newspaper that is the Azeri equivalent of the “Financial Times”. It has published a number of articles that are critical of President Aliyev and his government.

Faiq Amarli Faiq Amarli, jalied financial director of the Azadliq newspaper Photo: IRFS Baku

Amarli was charged with “inciting religious hatred“ and possessing books and CDs about the teachings of Fetullah Gülen, the Turkish religious leader exiled in the USA. Turkey’s President Erdoğan blames Gülen for the alleged failed military coup attempt of July 2016. And there is strong economical ties between Azerbaijan and Turkey.  

The newspaper’s financial director also faced charges of tax evasion. 

Reporting on the court case, his own newspaper “Azadliq" quotes his lawyer Agil Lajkov, "We do not expect fair judgement from this court. We consider that there is no point in asking the court whatsoever. The decision has already been made. Judge Ayten Alieva will not change. We just went to this court to be with Faik Amirli. I am very glad that I know Faic. In his example I gained a brother.“

"One more step towards silencing the media and establishing a totalitarian regime"

Lajkov said the European Court had been informed about the case and further developments are expected. 

ECPMF Chair Henrik Kaufholz comments: “The editor of ‘Azadliq’, Mr. Faiq Amirli, is just the latest of scores of journalists who have been jailed and prosecuted in Azerbaijan. The ECPMF sees the sentence of 3 years and 3 months imprisonment of Mr. Amirli as one more step towards silencing the media and establishing a totalitarian regime. We hope that the European Court of Human Rights will side with us and defend the freedom of the press.“

Meanwhile Azerbaijan’s President Heydar Aliyev celebrated the nation’s Press Day on 22nd July by giving free apartments to 255 journalists who have found favour with the government.

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