PARIS (Combined Sources)—An Azerbaijani journalist who exposed Azeri human rights violations and was imprisoned for his actions has been selected to as the winner of the 2012 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize, the United Nations announced Wednesday.
Eynulla Fatullayev, 35, is former editor-in-chief of the Russian Language weekly Realny Azerbaijan, as well as the Azeri-language daily Gundalik Azarbaycan. He is well known for his criticisms of the Azerbaijani government’s violations of human rights and press freedom. He endured years of assault and death threats, finally suspending the publication of both newspapers when his father was kidnapped.
He was imprisoned in 2007 for four years for criticizing government policies and was released by presidential pardon last year. During his incarceration, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists lobbied for his release. In 2011, Amnesty International classified him as a “priority case.”
“Throughout his career, he has unfailingly and steadfastly spoken out for freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” UNESCO said in a statement announcing the award.
The award is named for Guillermo Cano, a newspaper publisher murdered for decrying the powerful drug bosses in his native Colombia in 1987. The prize was created in 1997 to honor reporters and publishers who put their lives on the line to promote freedom of expression around the world.
In his presentation government ministers on Monday, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said that the Armenian lobby was to blamed for the international community’s criticism of Baku’s abysmal policy on human rights and continuous abuses.