Polad Aslanov.

Polad Aslanov.

Baku/24.02.22/Turan: Today the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan presided over by Hafiz Nasibov has heard the appeal of Polad Aslanov who was sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment treason charges.

During the hearing, the lawyer of the accused, Elchin Sadigov, pointed out that the charges against the journalist were unfounded.  Within 19 hours of his detention in June 2019, he was subjected to psychological pressure and made a confession under threat of his wife's arrest.

The lawyer said Aslanov was arrested because of the publication of three articles that alleged extortion by secret service officers from travel companies organising pilgrim trips to Iran.

The prosecution materials also cited these publications. The prosecution alleged that Aslanov had secret meetings in Iran with a member of the intelligence services. However, these allegations have no credible evidence.

Besides, some witnesses did not appear in court and the court did not enforce their appearance, so their testimony cannot be considered as evidence. The witnesses who appeared in court did not directly testify against Aslanov.

The lawyer noted that the journalist had been prosecuted for his professional activities and criticism of the security services, and asked the court to acquit him.

Aslanov himself supported the lawyer's statement as saying that he and his family had been subjected to pressure for three years since his arrest.

He called on the Supreme Court to stop seeking justice so that he would not have to seek justice in the European Court.

For his part, the state prosecutor stated that Aslanov's guilt had been proven; however, having regard to the mitigating circumstances - lack of a previous conviction, as well as his family situation and having a young child - to mitigate the punishment and reduce the prison sentence by 3 years.

After the hearing the court partially amended the sentence of the Baku Court of Appeal reducing the sentence from 16 to 13 years of imprisonment.

Sadigov's lawyer told reporters that the defence will now appeal to the Strasbourg court.

Polad Aslanov, founder and head of xeberman.com, was arrested in June 2019 on treason charges and sentenced to 16 years of imprisonment. He was declared a political prisoner by human rights activists.-06B-


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