Page last updated at 18:23 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 19:23 UK

Award for jailed Azeri journalist

Eynulla Fatullayev (Photo: Amnesty International)
Mr Fatullayev started two newspapers which criticised government officials

An Azerbaijani newspaper editor jailed after criticising the government has been given Amnesty International's award for journalism under threat.

At a ceremony in London, the human-rights group urged Azerbaijan to free Eynulla Fatullayev and stop trying "to stifle freedom of expression".

Mr Fatullayev was sentenced to 30 months in jail for libel in April 2007.

Six months later, he was sentenced to a further six years on terrorism and incitement of ethnic hatred charges.

Amnesty's UK Director Kate Allen said: "People like Eynulla face constant opposition and great personal risk, simply for exercising their human right to freedom of expression and doing their job as a professional journalist."

Mr Fatullayev founded the Azeri-language newspaper Gundelik Azerbaycan and the Russian-language Realny Azerbaijan, which became known for criticising government officials.

Since his imprisonment, both newspapers have closed.

He is in prison for the truth, and I think that, when he comes out, he will continue his work in that direction
Emin Fatullayev

Mr Fatullayev also worked for the opposition newspaper Monitor, which closed after the murder in 2005 of its editor, Elmar Huseynov.

No-one has yet been convicted of the killing, which former staff believe was related to the political content of the publication.

Mr Fatullayev's father, Emin, said receiving the award from Amnesty had "delighted both him, and all our family".

"He is in prison for the truth, and I think that, when he comes out, he will continue his work in that direction," he added.

In October 2007, the US said the trial of Mr Fatullayev under anti-terrorism laws indicated "a fear of the fundamental freedom of speech that is sharply at odds with the government of Azerbaijan's professed desire to develop democratic institutions".

The sentence was also condemned by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which described it as "the culmination of a campaign to silence Fatullayev and to eliminate the country's two largest circulation newspapers".

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