"If I die, my blood will be on Ilham Aliyev's hands"
The editor-in-chief's appeal was heard at the Baku Court of Appeal
The Baku Court of Appeal has considered an appeal against 16-year prison sentence of Polad Aslanov, founder and editor-in-chief of Heberman.com website. As a result of the trial chaired by Judge Hasan Ahmadov on 15 February, the appeal was rejected and the verdict upheld.
Polad Aslanov, who has been on hunger strike for 15 days, also testified in court. He said that the accusation of treason - spying for Iran's special services - was false. The main reason for his arrest is his coverage of corruption of officials on his website, especially the fact that DTX (State Security Service) employees take bribes from companies that visit pilgrims: “Let them present facts about my betrayal of the state. They say that I signed a receipt when I received money, where are those receipts? It is as if I have struck a blow to the state with my writings. Let those articles be examined, let's see how I struck."
Polad Aslanov said he had been on hunger strike for 15 days and had serious health problems. Therefore, he prepared a will: “I have sent 35 letters to the President. I have not received an answer to any of them. But he said that when there is lawlessness and official arbitrariness in the country, write and let me know. Why doesn't it matter? Because he knows everything. It is Ilham Aliyev himself who is in charge of this. He is also the one who took away the freedom of those who talk about corruption. If I lose my life as a result of starvation, my blood will be on Ilham Aliyev's hands. "
Speaking in court, Polad Aslanov said that his condition does not allow him to stand on his own two feet. Therefore, he was allowed to sit down and speak.
Elchin Sadigov, the deputy editor-in-chief, also said he was innocent and had been punished for his journalistic activities. The lawyer demanded that the criminal case against him be terminated on acquittal grounds.
The prosecutor said that the verdict of the Baku Court of Grave Crimes on Polad Aslanov was well-founded and the accusation of treason had been proved.
The editor-in-chief's wife, Gulmira Aslanova, told Meydan TV that an appeal would be lodged with the Supreme Court against the court's decision.
Gulmira Aslanova says that her husband's health is also serious and his health is in danger: “When he started the hunger strike, he weighed 44 kilograms, but now he has lost even more weight. His health problems are obvious. But, unfortunately, he is still being held in solitary confinement. They don't even measure his blood pressure and the records prepared by the prison administration for the court hearing were also confiscated."
The Penitentiary Service did not comment on reports that Polad Aslanov was on hunger strike. The ombudsman's office did confirm his hunger strike.
The website editor-in-chief has been in custody since 12 June 12 2019. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison by the Baku Court of Grave Crimes on 16 November 2020, found guilty of treason under Article 274 of the Criminal Code.
The criminal case materials allege that Polad Aslanov secretly cooperated with the Iranian special services, held secret meetings with them outside the country, passed information and received money in return.
Although Polad Aslanov was not drafted for a long time due to health problems, in April 2018 he received a sudden call-up. He completed his military service in April 2019. He was arrested two months later.
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