Turan: The journalist Polad Aslanov, held under arrest, went on a hunger strike in protest against the violation of his rights during the investigation and an impartial trial. He appealed to the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev with a request to intervene to restore justice against him and end the criminal prosecution.

The text of the appeal was circulated in the media by the journalist’s wife Gulmira Aslanova.

In his address to the head of state, Aslanov recalls that immediately after the arrest on June 12, 2019, he and his family members were subjected to pressure and blackmail from the employees of the State Security Service.

According to Aslanov, the reason for his persecution was the distribution of the appeal of the head of Eşq Səfəri LLC, Fakhri Hasanov, by him on the website Xeberman.com at the beginning of 2018. The appeal said that the State Security Service officers charged $ 10 and $ 20 from each pilgrim sent by this company to Mashhad and Karbala.

Aslanov claims that after the publication he received an offer from the State Security Service to remove the publication in exchange for a bribe.

He did not accept the offer and in April he was drafted into the army at the age of 29, despite weighing 42 kg and previous recognition of him as unfit for military service.

After completing his military service, according to Aslanov, he again received offers from representatives of the State Security Service and the heads of websites under its control for cooperation.

However, Aslanov rejected these offers and on June 12 he was detained along with family members at the Bilasuvar border crossing when they were heading to a wedding in Iran.

According to Aslanov, all family members were returned to Baku to the State Security Service.

“I was threatened with the fate of my mother, wife and 6-year-old daughter, who were actually being held as hostages, and I had to sign the prepared testimony,” Aslanov writes.

He notes that the accusation of high treason was expressed in the fact that, allegedly, on the instructions of the Iranian special services, he published an article discrediting the State Security Service.

“There is no evidence or witnesses for this unfounded accusation,” Aslanov writes.

He also points to a biased trial chaired by the judge of the Baku Grave Crimes Court Faig Ganiyev, who worked for many years in the SSS investigation department.

“In protest against the illegalities I indicated, since August 5, I have declared a hunger strike.

Considering that I suffer from cardiovascular disease and weigh only 45 kg, it is probably not difficult to imagine how hard it is for me.

I, as a citizen, ask you to give instructions to re-conduct the investigation and trial in accordance with the law and terminate the criminal case,” Aslanov notes.

Copies of the appeal were sent to First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva, Head of the State Security Service Ali Nagiyev, Prosecutor General Kamran Aliyev, Minister of Justice Fikret Mammadov, Head of the Baku Grave Crimes Court Mahmud Nabiyev, Ombudsman Sabina Aliyeva, Representative Office of the International Committee of the European Red Cross and local offices, other international organizations.

As reported by the journalist’s wife Gulmira Aslanova, today he was transferred from the SSS jail to the Baku Jail-1 in Kurdakhani.

At the same time, a decision was made to return the journalist’s laptop and prepaid card for using the Internet mobile operator Nar Mobilе, seized during the search, to the family.

She also noted that the trial over the journalists resumed after a two-month break on 6 August.

“At the trial, Samir Zeynalov, presenting himself as a “public defender”, was heard as a witness. After Polad’s call-up, this man offered his legal assistance to apply to government agencies and even helped several times. However, once he offered me to publish provocative material on the website, and I refused. Then I realized that he was a person sent by the special services. After that, he began to insult me. And in court, he said that if Polad had not been arrested, he would have killed him as a “traitor to the motherland.” I protested the witness’s threats to my husband, but the judge removed me from the courtroom,” G. Aslanova said.

* Polad Aslanov was detained on June 12, 2019 and arrested for 4 months on charges under Art. 274 (treason) of the Criminal Code. The investigation is being conducted by the State Security Service. On October 5, the arrest period was extended for another 4 months.

In December, another charge was brought against him – under Art. 134 (threat of murder or grievous bodily harm) of the Criminal Code. However, on February 10, Dayanat Babayev, who was recognized as a victim under this article, refused the complaint.