Charged: Nijat Aliyev

ROLE: Editor-in-chief of Azadxeber.net, an Islamist news website

FOCUS: Critical of perceived anti-Islamic activities in Azerbaijan

ARRESTED: May 20, 2012, Baku

CHARGE: Aliyev is charged with distributing or selling religious literature, goods or any other religious informational content as a person or as part of a group without special dispensation (Article 167.2.2.1 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code), the illegal purchase or storage without intent to sell of narcotics or psychotropic substances in a quantity exceeding that necessary for personal consumption (Article 234.1), appealing for the forceful change of authority, the forceful change of the constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, its territorial integrity through open calls and the distribution of such open calls (Article 281.2). He also charged with actions through the mass media aimed at restricting citizens’ rights on the basis of nationality, ethnicity, religious hatred as part of a group (Article 283.2.3).

CONVICTED:  If convicted, Aliyev faces up to 18 years in prison and a 1900 AZN fine.

CASE DETAILS: Aliyev was detained on May 20, 2012 as he was distributing CDs containing information on house demolitions in the run up to the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 in Baku, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and a number of other controversial issues. Aliyev’s lawyer told Human Rights Watch that his client had been subject to police beatings and torture. Prior to Eurovision, Aliyev had also published a series of articles protesting at the holding of the event in Baku, citing the fact that Eurovision has a known gay following and that such an event should not be held in a Muslim country. Such sentiments were then publicised in the international media.

CURRENT STATUS: Nijat Aliyev is currently being held in pretrial detention. On April 1, 2013 a preliminary hearing was held on the journalist’s case, presided over by Judge Zeynal Agayev at the Baku Grave Crimes Court. The case will be considered in the next hearing set to be held on April 12, 10:30am.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Azad Xeber is a website which provides local and international news from an Islamist perspective. In the run up to the Eurovision Song Contest 2012, religious leaders in Iran had stated that holding the Eurovision Song Contest was ‘against religious values and ‘immoral’ with particular reference to its gay following.

Compiled by ARTICLE 19 from a variety of sources. Current as of 09/04/2013.

Picture courtesy of IRFS.