Azerbaijan: Opposition activist handed outrageous politically motivated sentence
Reacting to today’s sentencing of Azerbaijani opposition activist Tofig Yagublu to four years and three months in prison, Natalia Nozadze, Amnesty International’s South Caucasus Researcher, said:
“The Azerbaijani authorities must immediately review the prison sentence of Tofig Yagublu, with a view to releasing him immediately and unconditionally. Tofig Yagublu is a prisoner of conscience and his conviction is yet another example of the Azerbaijani authorities’ crackdown on political opposition and freedom of expression.
“Tofig Yagublu has faced years of harassment for daring to oppose the rule of President Ilham Aliyev. His health has been affected by his previous time in prison and he is now at risk of contracting COVID-19. In March President Aliyev delivered an incendiary speech in which he proposed “isolating” opposition leaders to prevent the spread of the virus, illustrating just how politically motivated Yagublu’s conviction is, and prompting the arrests of several dozen opposition leaders and activists on trumped-up charges.”
On 3 September, a court in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku sentenced Tofig Yagublu, the Deputy Chairman of the opposition Musavat party, to four years and three months for “hooliganism.” According to the prosecution, Yagublu physically assaulted a married couple in the aftermath of a car accident, an accusation Amnesty International believes is false. Yagublu was arrested on 22 March and remains in custody.
Tofig Yagublu is a longstanding political opponent of Ilham Alieyv’s rule. He was first arrested in 2013 and given a four-year jail term a year for “inciting mass violence.” On 5 November 2015, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that by depriving Tofig Yagublu of his liberty without having reasonable suspicion of a criminal offense, Azerbaijan violated his rights and he was released in March 2016 under a presidential pardon.