Journalist for Azadliq newspaper, imprisoned since 29 August 2014
ROLE: Journalist and columnist for Azadliq, news presenter for pro-opposition TV channel Azerbaijan Saati (Azerbaijan Hour).
FOCUS: Politics, particularly President Aliyev and other Azerbaijani government officials.
ARRESTED: 29 August 2014.
CHARGED: Hooliganism committed with a weapon or an object used as a weapon.
CONVICTED: Hezi was sentenced to five years imprisonment on 29 January 2015.
CASE DETAILS: In August 2014, while waiting for a bus, Hezi was attacked by a man he did not know (later identified as Baku resident Maharram Hasanov). In self-defence, he struck the man with a bottle he was holding at the time. The police swiftly appeared and detained Hezi. He was sent to a pre-trial detention facility, where he remained until 29 January when he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.
CURRENT STATUS: Imprisoned, release date January 2020. On 15 April 2016, Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court refused his appeal against his conviction. His lawyers now plan to appeal the conviction at the European Court of Human Rights. According to Rahim Haciyev, the deputy editor of Azadliq, Hezi’s health has significantly deteriorated while in prison.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Prior to his arrest in August, Hezi had experienced numerous instances of harassment. He was kidnapped in 2005, detained in 2010, and on 26 March 2011 was abducted and beaten while on his way home after work. This latter attack received media attention and was condemned by organisations including the OSCE who described it as “inadmissible”.
Speaking to RFE/RL, Hezi commented that the content of his articles – which are highly critical of President Ilham Aliyev’s policies – is what provoked the attack. Advised by the Interior Ministry officials to appeal to the police to investigate, Hezi declined, saying that attacks of a similar nature on journalists had not been thoroughly investigated in the past.
Hezi was sentenced to five years imprisonment by Azerbaijani authorities on the same day (29 January) that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution to “reiterate the importance of media freedom for democracy,” by increasing the “efforts for the respect of the human rights to freedom of expression and information as well as to the protection of the life, liberty and security of those working for and with the media. This is particularly apposite given that Azerbaijan is currently chairing the Council of Europe.
Compiled by ARTICLE 19 from a variety of sources. Current as of 15/06/2016