On July 6, Azerbaijani journalist Eynullah Fatullayev was convicted on criminal charges of drug possession and sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment. The United States is concerned by the court ruling. We note that the OSCE Representative on Media Freedom characterized the drug charges on which Fatullayev was convicted as "highly improbable," and we join the OSCE Representative and others in calling for his release. We also note the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights that acquitted Fatullayev of charges raised against him in 2007.
The United States urges the Government of Azerbaijan to fully respect press freedoms, including the right to investigate and freely publish via both traditional and new internet-based media. As Secretary Clinton noted in Baku during her July 4 visit, when members of civil society are respected and allowed to work free of intimidation, democracies flourish and societies prosper. As a partner, the United States stands ready to assist the people and government of Azerbaijan in making the necessary reforms for democratic and economic progress. The conviction of Eynullah Fatullayev is not a step in the right direction.