Mehman Huseynov is a journalist who has been imprisoned for almost two years on bogus charges stemming from him exposing rampant police brutality and corruption at the highest levels of government in Azerbaijan.
As he approaches the end of his sentence, the Azerbaijani government has crafted new charges to extend his sentence five to seven years. Mr. Huseynov is protesting the new charges and his treatment by going on a hunger strike.
The persecution illustrates the reality of Azerbaijan’s persecution of dissidents and journalists under president Ilham Aliyev. Azerbaijan’s jails hold 150 political prisoners, including 10 journalists.
Mr. Huseynov used Facebook and YouTube to hold Azerbaijan’s rulers to account. Among his reports, were videos showing that while ordinary Azerbaijanis were suffering economically, government ministers were building opulent palaces for themselves.
He was detained January 2017, and beaten by police. Police put a plastic bag over his head and used a stun gun on him. He was bruised and covered in blood when he was released from the courthouse.
Instead of authorities being investigated for torture, Mr. Huseynov was charged with defamation against the police who had tortured him. He was sentenced to two years in prison. He has been there ever since.
Now authorities are leveling more charges, claiming he attacked a prison official. The accusations are vague, undocumented and probably as bogus as the initial charges against him. Mr. Huseynov is now on hunger strike without food or water, and his health is deteriorating.
Photo of mehman huseynov via Facebook