A freelance journalist was arrested in Azerbaijan under accusations of stirring mass disobedience and criticizing the government.
Faramaz Novruzoglu is facing a four and a half year jail sentence for allegedly using a false name on a Facebook page to illicit a riot and for illegally crossing the Azerbaijani-Turkish border back in November 2010. Additionally, he was required to pay a fine of 1,420 AZN (1,436 euros) for charges back in November 2010. He has been imprisoned for his work twice before in 2007 and 2009.
The head of the Baku-based Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) told CPJ that credible evidence against Novruzoglu was not presented in court. The IRFS also said Novruzoglu’s state-appointed defense attorney failed to defend him properly.
In court on Aug. 22, Novruzoglu said that his arrest is a result of two of his articles that criticized the government: “The whereabouts of Azerbaijani oil exported to Italia” and “Where do the candles imported from Russia go?” He said he never used the false name Elchin Ilgaroglu on Facebook and that the seizing of personal property (his personal computer and three other computers) did not contain evidence that he used the name.
In the article Novruzoglu also denied the charge that he traveled to Turkey illegally in November 2010 and said that he only traveled to Nakhchivan several times through Iran during that time. He provided evidence of his travel records with the presentation of his passport to the court. Additionally, he provided the receipts of the payments for his fine of 1,420 AZN.
According to IRFS, the Nizami District Court under judge Imran Burjayev declared Novruzoglu’s sentence after a three-minute deliberation.
By Nina Pantic.