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Talysh blogger ‘illegally moved’ from pre-trial detention

5 May 2021
Aslan Gurbanov. Photo via RFE/RL.

A Talysh blogger currently appealing his conviction for ‘public incitement against the state’ has been moved from pre-trial detention to a prison, which according to his lawyer is in breach of the law.

Aslan Gurbanov was found guilty of public incitement against the state and incitement of national, racial, social, religious hatred and enmity through the media on 15 April.

The blogger was accused of carrying out anti-government propaganda on social media platforms, disseminating discriminatory materials, and publishing materials that ‘falsely claimed’ that Talysh people were discriminated against in Azerbaijan. Talysh activists have insisted that the charges against Gurbanov were fabricated.

His lawyer, Fariz Namazli, said that Gurbanov had been moved to Prison Number 10 in Baku. Namazli told OC Media that Gurbanov’s sentence had not yet entered into force as he was awaiting the result of an appeal.

‘He was taken to penitentiary detention without waiting for the verdict to enter into force. This was explained to me by the fact that the detention centre was overcrowded and there were a large number of detainees. Of course, this is illegal’, Namazli said. 

Solitary confinement

Gurbanov’s family have also expressed concerns over his safety in prison. His brother, Sakit Gurbanov, said that he immediately went to the prison when he heard that Aslan had been transferred, but was turned away.

‘I asked them why my brother was transferred from Kurdekhani pre-trial detention centre and why we have been unable to speak to him for a week’, Sakit Gurbanov told OC Media. 

‘Then I was told that he is in solitary confinement, and for the reasons for this punishment I got a vague answer about him getting into a fight.’

‘They [the authorities] have only one aim and it is to kill him. I’ve called the protection committee and they promised to ask about the reasons for this treatment’, he said.

Sakit Gurbanov added that all of Aslan’s hearings were held in secrecy, and that the family was not allowed to attend. 

‘I will be appealing to the presidential apparatus and other state institutions, as well as to the European Human Rights court in order to raise awareness about his condition’, he concluded.

Gurbanov’s lawyer Fariz Namazli said he had been unable to ascertain if his client had indeed been placed in solitary confinement. ‘We have filed an appeal, and we will wait for its consideration, it has just been submitted’, he said. 

[Read more: Talysh blogger sentenced to 7 years in Azerbaijan]

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