Anar Bayramli

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Anar Bayramli
Born c. 1981
Nationality Azerbaijani
Occupation Journalist
Organization Fars News Agency, Sahar
Known for 2012 imprisonment

Anar Bayramli (born c. 1981[1]) is an Azerbaijani journalist for Iran's Fars News Agency and Sahar television station. In June 2012, an Azerbaijan court sentenced him to two years' imprisonment on a charge of drug possession. Bayramli's family and several human rights organizations have described the charges as politically motivated.[2] Amnesty International designated him a prisoner of conscience.[3]

Bayramli's arrest came in a year of growing tension between Azerbaijan and Iran. Iran accused Azerbaijan of assisting in the assassination of nuclear scientists, and withdrew its ambassador following complaints by Iranian religious leaders over Azerbaijan's hosting of Eurovision 2012. Both countries accused the other of interfering in their domestic affairs.[2] Azerbaijani authorities had recently criticized Sahar TV, for which Bayramli is a reporter, for "deliberately seeking to destabilize the country".[3] Prior to the arrest, Bayramli had twice been brought to the police station for questioning. He later stated that the police officers pressured him to quit his job with Iranian media.[3]

On 17 February 2012, he was again brought to the police station for questioning. After fifteen minutes of questioning, police searched his coat, which had been left unattended in a waiting room. They found a parcel which Bayramli stated he did not recognize containing 0.387 grams of heroin, and Bayramli was charged with drug possession.[3] An Iranian embassy official denounced the charge, calling Bayramli "a devout, respectable person" and warning the arrest could worsen relations between the countries.[4] Bayramli was convicted on 12 June 2012 and sentenced to two years' imprisonment.[2]

Several international human rights organizations have questioned the charges against Bayramli. Amnesty International described the charges against him as "politically motivated; trumped up by Azerbaijan’s secular authorities in order to silence their coverage of religious issues". The organization designated him a prisoner of conscience and urged his immediate release.[3] The Committee to Protect Journalists called the charges "trumped-up", comparing the case to that of Eynulla Fatullayev and stating that "silencing government critics by planting drugs on them is a favored method of authorities in Azerbaijan."[5] Human Rights Watch called for an independent investigation into Bayramli's possible framing.[1] In approving the decision to release imprisoned journalist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev on 4 June 2012, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe stated that it hoped Bayramli also would soon be freed.[6]

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  1. ^ a b "Azerbaijan: Reporter Sentenced on Spurious Charges". Human Rights Watch. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Lada Evgrashina (12 June 2012). "Azerbaijan jails Iranian journalist on drugs charge". Reuters. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Azerbaijan: Authorities determined to silence dissent to ensure successful Eurovision". Amnesty International. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  4. ^ Lada Yevgrashina (20 February 2012). "Iranian journalist held in Azerbaijan over drugs". Reuters. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "In Azerbaijan, reporter convicted on drug charges". The Committee to Protect Journalists. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2012. 
  6. ^ Aida Sultanova (4 June 2012). "Azerbaijan activist freed ahead of Clinton visit". Google News. Associated Press. Retrieved 1 July 2012.