Journalist faces six years in prison for alleged corruption in Azerbaijan

Journalist Mushfig Huseynov faces six years in prison for alleged corruption

On January 21st, a court in Azerbaijan sentenced business reporter Mushfig Huseynov of the Bizim Yol daily newspaper to six years in prison followed by a two-year ban on working as a journalist.

The charges stem from allegations that Huseynov took a bribe from a government official. Huseynov has been in detention since his arrest on July 24th.

Reporters Without Borders, an international non-profit organisation that promotes freedom of the press, has stated that the sentence was disproportionate and a reflection of the government’s desire to make an example of Huseynov in order to discredit and weaken the opposition press.

The organisation also expressed concerns about the lack of transparency in the investigation, stating that normally complaints about journalists are addressed to the Press Council, but that was not done in this case.

Huseynov was arrested by national security officials on July 24th and charged with corruption under article 331 (1) of the criminal code for allegedly accepting a bribe of 3,500 dollars from Rizvan Aliyev, an employee of the ministry of labour and social security. According to Bizim Yol editor Bahaddin Haziyev, Huseynov had written a series of articles criticising the ministry prior to his arrest.

Huseynov’s lawyer, Vugar Hasayev, maintains that his client is innocent and that the investigation was not conducted in an impartial manner. He argues that the sentence is a way for the authorities to silence a journalist who had reported on several cases of corruption within the ministry of labour.

The case of Mushfig Huseynov has brought attention to the ongoing challenges faced by journalists in Azerbaijan, where press freedom is often restricted and journalists who report on sensitive topics are at risk of facing legal action.

The sentence passed on Huseynov has sparked debate on the rights of journalists and the importance of protecting their ability to carry out their work without fear of repression.