Journalists Eynulla Fatullayev, Nedim Sener to Speak at IPI World Congress
Wednesday, 06 June 2012
Pair to Participate in Panel Discussion Addressing Experiences Behind Bars
VIENNA, June 1, 2012 – The International Press Institute (IPI) today announced that formerly-imprisoned journalists Eynulla Fatullayev of Azerbaijan and Nedim Sener of Turkey will speak at IPI’s annual World Congress – which will take place from June 23 to 26 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago – about their experiences behind bars.
Fatullayev and Sener were released over the course of the last year after having spent four years and one year, respectively, in prison in their home countries on charges that critics believe were brought in response to their reporting.
The journalists, whose detentions brought press freedom groups and others around the world together to rally for their freedom, will speak as part of a panel discussion titled “Journalists Behind Bars: A Conversation with Eynulla Fatullayev and Nedim Sener”, which is set to take place at 1:30 pm on June 25 at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad hotel.
Fatullayev was imprisoned in 2007 for convictions based, in part, on alleged violations of anti-terrorism law after he reported on the potential ramifications of Azerbaijan’s support for the United States if the U.S. went to war with Iran. Following his appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, he was sentenced to additional prison time when authorities in December 2009 said they found heroin in his prison cell. Many observers claimed the charge was fabricated to prevent his release if the Strasbourg court ruled in his favour. He was released under a presidential pardon on May 26, 2011 following advocacy on his behalf by IPI and others.
The former editor-in-chief and founder of the popular independent Russian-language weekly Realny Azerbaijan and the Azeri-language daily Gundalik Azarbaycan newspapers, Fatullayev is a member of IPI’s Azerbaijan National Committee. He is currently chairman of the Azerbaijani non-governmental organisation Public Union For Human Rights and head of the Internet portal haqqin.az.
Earlier this month he was awarded the 2012 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, which honours the work of an individual or organisation defending or promoting freedom of expression, especially if that action puts the individual’s life at risk.
Sener was detained March 3, 2011 following a raid by security services targeting journalists and others connected with nationalist news website Oda TV. Authorities say the website acted as the media wing for the so-called “Ergenekon” plot, in which secularists and ultra-nationalists allegedly planned to use terrorism to overthrow the government of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Prosecutors accuse the defendants of seeking to advance the plot by using media to discredit the government’s probe into it. Sener and his co-defendants, however, argue that they are being targeted for the content of their writings and that purportedly incriminating files found on Oda TV computer hard drives were placed there by hackers.
A court in March 2012 ordered Sener’s release following advocacy on his behalf by IPI and others, but the Oda TV trial continues. Sener faces a possible sentence of seven-and-a-half to 15 years in prison if convicted on charges of aiding an armed terrorist organisation.
Prior to his detention, Sener was an author and investigative reporter at the Turkish daily national newspaper Milliyet. He gained prominence following the publication of his controversial book linking security services to the murder of his friend, Turkish-Armenian journalist and IPI World Press Freedom Hero Hrant Dink. In 2010, IPI named Sener, a member of its Turkish National Committee, IPI’s 56th World Press Freedom Hero for his continued investigative reporting in the face of threats both inside and outside of the courtroom.
Since his release in March, Sener has worked as an investigative reporter and columnist for daily newspaper Posta in Istanbul.