Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev pardoned Russian travel blogger Alexander Lapshing on Monday 11 September. He was arrested in Minsk in December 2016 and extradited to Azerbaijan, after the Supreme Court in Belarus decided to send him to Baku despite objections from Moscow. Lapshin was accused of illegally visiting Nagorno-Karabakh, the disputed territory between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and calling for independence of the region.
The second journalist, Mehman Aliyev, editor-in-chief of the Turan news agency, has been released from pretrial detention the same day, on condition that he will not leave the country until his trial at an undetermined date. He was charged by the Azerbaijani authorities in August 2017 on allegations of tax evasion and abuse of powers.
EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez called on the authorities to drop all charges against Mehman Aliyev. He reminded that 9 journalists and bloggers are still behind bars in Azerbaijan: Nijat Aliyev, Araz Guliyev, Seymur Hazi, Mehman Huseynov, Fikrat Faramazoglu, Afghan Mukhtarli, Aziz Orujov, Rashad Ramazanov and Afgan Sadigov.