Jailed Azerbaijani Blogger Mehman Huseynov Enters 17th Day of Hunger Strike

Azerbaijani Blogger and human rights activist Mehman Huseynov has been on a hunger strike in Baku prison since December 26, 2018, to protest against new charges of injuring a prison warden which he claims to be false. He claims that the purpose of the new false charges is to extend his prison sentence, as he’s due to be released in March 2019.

Huseynov was arrested in January 2017 and sentenced in December 2017 to two years imprisonment for “slander, which equates to an accusation of committing a very serious crime”. His appeal was denied by Baku Court of Appeal and his sentence upheld by Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court in June 25, 2018.

Huseynov documented corrupt practices and violations of human rights in Azerbaijan. He was the editor-in-chief of the SANCAQ, a socio-political magazine, and Chairman of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), promoting freedom of expression and information in Azerbaijan. His Facebook page is followed by over 300,000 people.

According to Freedom House’s Freedom of the Net report for the year 2018, Azerbaijan is marked as ‘Partly Free’. Social media apps are not being blocked, but political and social content is being blocked and bloggers, journalists and social media users are being arrested and facing legal sanctions for their activities online. The report states that ​Internet freedom has declined after ‘a court upheld the blocking of independent news websites and technical attacks targeted both news outlets and opposition activists’. New legislation which introduced in early 2017, allowed the authorities to block content online, which according to the report: ‘swiftly used to block several independent online media outlets’.

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