TV presenter and newspaper columnist
Date of arrest – 29 August 2014
Charges (articles of the Criminal Code) –
221.3 – hooliganism, committed using items used as a weapon.
Penal facility – Prison No. 17
Case summary – Seymur Hazi, a commentator of opposition-leaning Azadliq (Liberty) newspaper and presenter of Azerbaycan Saati (Azerbaijan Hour) an internet- and satellite-based TV program severely criticizing the Azerbaijani government and its policy, was detained without any good reason. In Jeyranbatan settlement near Baku, a person named Maharram Hasanov approached Seymur Hazi asking him why he did not respond to his message in social media and attacked him without waiting for an answer. Then Seymur Hazi was detained by the policemen who came to the area shortly thereafter. On 30 August 2014, Absheron District Court sentenced him to pre-trial detention.
Sentence — On 29 January 2015, at the hearing of Absheron District Court chaired by Judge Shovkat Najafova, Seymur Hazi was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment, while the other party, Maharram Hasanov, who testified against him, was sentenced to 6 months. Hasanov is already free now. Sumgait Court of Appeal upheld the sentence on 5 September 2015, which the Supreme Court confirmed on 15 April 2016.
Monitoring of the hearings indicated that the arrest of the journalist had been planned in advance; a provocative act was committed and used to arrest him. During the proceedings, none of the motions filed by the journalist and his lawyer aimed at revealing the merits of the case was granted. Specifically:
– opening date of the criminal case is not shown in the indictment;
– the case was launched without conducting any expertise;
– testimonies of Maharram Hasanov were inconsistent;
– in fact, there had been no correspondence between him and the journalist on Facebook;
– Hasanov arrived at the incident scene 2 hours before and waited for the journalist. The list and time of phone conversations, which could prove this, was not investigated.
Seymur Hazi had been subject to harassment and persecution prior to his arrest as well. On March 26, 2011, he was kidnapped at a similar location in Jeyranbatan settlement, where he resides, and taken to an unknown place where he was subjected to violence by unknown masked men who told him “Don’t be silly, don’t write about Ilham Aliyev”. The journalist gave an open interview to the media regarding this incident; his appeals to the law-enforcement agencies received no response and the criminal case launched upon repeated efforts was completed with no result.
Amnesty International recognized the journalist as a prisoner of conscience.
Sentence – Huseynov was sentenced to 2 years loss of liberty on 3 March 2017 (judge Jeyhun Gadimov). Baku Court of Appeal upheld this decision on 12 April 2017 (presiding judge Vagif Mursagulov). Supreme Court ordered revision of the case by Baku Court of Appeal on 29 September 2017. Upon revision Baku Court of Appeal upheld the sentence by December 15, 2017 decision.
Amnesty International has recognized the journalist as a prisoner of conscience. (See Revolving Doors, 2016, p. 9.)