Date of arrest – 30 June 2016
Charges (articles of the Criminal Code)
182.2.1 – extortion, committed by a group of persons on a prior arrangement;
182.2.2 – same action, when committed repeatedly;
182.2.4 – same action, when committed with the purpose of extorting property in a large amount.
Penal facility – Prison № 2
Case summary – Fikrat Faramazoglu, editor-in-chief of http://www.jam.az portal (Journalistic Investigation Center), published regular articles on hotels and other facilities used as brothels under the patronage of officials. On 20 June, 10 days before his arrest, he published an article titled “A brothel near the head office of YAP.” (YAP is the acronym of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, or Yeni Azarbaycan Partiyasi).
The article reported that this and other brothels belonged to a person with a nickname Antalya Mehman, who enjoyed the patronage of high-ranking officials thereby preventing any interference from even the Human Trafficking Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. [footnote 4 — inaccessible.] On 23 June, the journalist published another article identifying that the person known as Antalya Mehman was under the patronage of Vilayat Eyvazov, First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs. (See Freedom House statement — footnotes 5 and 7 inaccessible.)
The Ministry released an official statement saying that the journalist was detained while extorting 3,000 AZN from a restaurant owner in Baku and sentenced him to pre-trial detention. However, before his arrest the journalist was in one of catering facilities along with his colleagues and was arrested when leaving the facility. An employee of the facility reported the arrest to other colleagues.
After his arrest, Faramazoglu was held at the Organized Crime Department of the Interior Ministry where he had to refuse a lawyer as a result of pressures. Upon his transfer to the Baku Pre-trial Detention Facility from the Department, Faramazoglu stated that he had been held at the Department for 34 days without any grounds, subjected to torture, e.g. he remained handcuffed for 12 days without interval, received punches and kicks to his head, and his teeth were broken. Although the journalist appealed to the General Prosecutor’s Office with regard to the torture allegations, his appeal has not yet been examined. Once he reported the facts of pressure and torture, Faramazoglu was returned to the Organized Crime Department again on 17 September and taken back a while later.
The journalist’s arrest was followed by pressures on his wife Faige Nosreti, an Iranian citizen. She was threatened with deportation and death; her automobile was spray- painted red with a threatening letter. On 16 October, there was an attempted break-in at the apartment where Faramazoglu’s wife and 2-year-old child lived. Some unknown men tried to open the apartment with a key, but they ran away when they heard the voice of the journalist’s wife. The incident was reported to the police. The journalist’s wife addressed an official appeal to the Minister of Internal Affairs Ramil Usubov with regard to the incident. Mrs. Nosreti also reported the developments to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Azerbaijan and asked for help.
Lawyer of the journalist Elchin Sadigov have also been subject to harassment and threats for his active involvement in the case. Fake profiles impersonating the lawyer and his wife were opened and their private pictures were placed in the internet with insulting comments. Several pro-government websites published slanderous stories alleging that the lawyer had an affair with the wife of arrested journalist. Soon after publication the stories were deleted from the web-sites. On November 2 while studying the case in the Anti-Organized Crime Unit of the Interior Ministry, the lawyer was threatened by the investigator. Investigator told Sadigov, that they are very upset about publicizing of the tortures Faramazoglu was subject to. They also advised Sadigov “to be careful”. Sadigov has addressed the issue to the leadership of the law-enforcement agencies. Following the threats the lawyer’s brother, residing in Goygol district was summoned to the local police station and asked questions about his brother’s activity. Without any reasons provided Elchin Sadigov’s brother was held and questioned in the police for several hours. Freedom House and Amnesty International expressed their concern regarding harassment to the lawyer and called authorities to investigate the matter89.
Sentence – Faramazoglu was sentenced to 7 years by the Baku Grave Crimes Court (chaired by judge Eldar Mikayilov) on 14 June 2017. Baku Court of Appeal upheld the sentence by 18 September 2017 decision (presiding judge: Namig Mammadov).