21 Sep 2020 Lvl. 1
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Alert created on: 19 May 2015 n° 58/2015 Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan Arrested Prominent Journalist Rauf Mirkadyrov for Espionage

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CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
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Rauf Mirkadyrov is a well-known columnist of the independent Russian-language newspaper “Zerkalo”. On 9 April 2014, Mirkadyrov was arrested in Baku by Azerbaijan's national security service, the MNB, and charged with espionage. He was deported back to Azerbaijan from Turkey, where he was based for three years. The Azerbaijani prosecutor-general's office accused him of meeting with Armenian security services and handing them state secrets. The journalist denies the allegations, considering them as absurd and politically motivated. He often criticised both Turkish and Azerbaijani authorities for human rights abuses. On November 20, 2014, a day after the term of arrest expired, the Nasimi Court Judge unlawfully extended Mirkadyrov’s arrest for a further five months. The case is now submitted to the European Court of Human Rights: the complaint to the ECHR raises the question on the violation of Mirkadyrov’s right to freedom and security of person and a fair trial, guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.
New 21 Sep 2020
On 17 September 2020, the European Court of Human Rights found a violation of Rauf Mirkadyrov's rights under Art. 5 (right to liberty and security of person), 6 (right to a fair trial) and 8 (right to respect for private life) of the European Convention on Human Rights. According to the ECtHR, the evidence, whether submitted to it or presented domestically, had not been sufficient to find a reasonable suspicion that the applicant had committed high treason. Restrictions placed on him during his pre-trial detention had also violated his rights. The ECtHR ordered the Azerbaijani government to pay Mirkadyrov compensation of €20,000.
10 Mar 2017
On 10 March 2017 Mirkadyrov was granted the status of political refugee in Switzerland, where he had been living since September 2016.
17 Mar 2016
On 17 March 2016, journalist Rauf Mirkadyrov was released on probation by the Baku Court of Appeal.
30 Dec 2015
On 28 December 2015, the Baku Serious Crimes Court sentenced Rauf Mirkadyrov, an independent journalist who was the co-founder of the opposition newspaper Bizim Yol in Azerbaijan, to six year of imprisonment on trumped-up charges of spying. Mirkadyrov covered the Nagorno-Karabakh region and participated in various projects aimed at fostering dialogue among civil society groups and finding a solution to a stalemate that has endured since 1994. Based in Turkey for the previous three years, he was arbitrarily stripped of his residence permit and deported on 18 April 2014 to Azerbaijan, where he was arrested on arrival.
21 Oct 2015
The criminal case against the journalist Rauf Mirkadyrov accused of high treason has been sent to the Baku Court of Grave Crimes.
12 Dec 2019
In her report following her visit to Azerbaijan from 8 to 12 July 2019, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights regrets that no progress has been made regarding the protection of freedom of expression and calls on the authorities to release all those detained because of the views they expressed, notably journalists.
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