The co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Azerbaijan, Sir Roger Gale (United Kingdom, EC) and Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC) have expressed their deep concern at the new charges brought against an anti-corruption Azerbaijani blogger and Chairman of the Institute for Reporters` Freedom and Safety (IRFS), Mehman Huseynov, who is currently serving the remaining two months of his two-year prison sentence.
Mehman Husejnov has been detained since March 2017 on defamation charges, after he had published a series of articles revealing cases of alleged corruption and torture by Azerbaijani officials. On 26 December 2018 he was accused of "resisting a representative of the authorities with the use of violence dangerous to his health and life", which is liable to lead to his imprisonment for up to seven years.
"Unfortunately, there are justified grounds for the assumption that these new charges are clearly politically motivated and clearly designed to further silence a prominent human rights activist whom we consider a political prisoner," said the co-rapporteurs. "Furthermore, we are alarmed by the fact that Mehman Huseynov has embarked upon a hunger strike as the only means available to him to protest about his plight," they added.
"We call upon the Azerbaijani authorities to review his case as a matter of absolute priority," they concluded.
photo: Mehman Husseynov (archive picture)
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David Bakradze, of the opposition European Georgia Party, has in the meantime raised the issue of Russia's return to full participation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which is going to be discussed at a meeting in Strasbourg this week. Bakradze said that it was not acceptable that Russia be allowed to return to PACE given its recent actions.