Imprisoned Azerbaijani journalist Mehman Huseynov’s lawyer has complained of “gross violations” of his client’s human rights in prison.
The blogger and advocate for press freedom was sentenced to two years in prison on March 3 for defamation, following his claim that Azerbaijani police officers had beaten him.
“Mehman Huseynov’s mood is good,” Elchin Sadiqov, his lawyer, told Meydan TV. “But he has serious health issues”.
Huseynov struggled with varicose veins prior to his arrest in January this year, but the ailment is worsening due to conditions in prison and causing him pain, Sadiqov said.
Sadiqov will be appealing to the Penitentiary Service of the Ministry of Justice in order to secure his client access to medical treatment, including surgery.
Previously, Huseynov has reported suffering torture whilst in custody, according to a letter condemning his treatment signed by 19 human rights groups, including PEN International and Reporters Without Borders.
Huseynov has also been denied communication with his family since his arrest, causing him significant distress and anxiety, Sadiqov said.
Sadiqov has already appealed to the management of the Penitentiary Service and the Human Rights Attorney-Ombudsperson on the subject, but said that “necessary action has not been taken yet”.
It was not possible to receive any information from the Penitentiary Service on this issue.
Huseynov has also not been permitted to receive books sent to him, as authorities claimed one of the books contravened censorship rules. It is a book that is actually widely available, Sadiqov said.
Overall, Huseynov’s treatment represents a “gross violation of legislation on prisoners rights,” Sadiqov said.
Huseynov was first detained on January 9 and accused of resisting arrest. However, he was released the next day after being fined 200 AZN.
Following his release, Huseynov spoke publicly of the torture he had suffered in detention, a charge that Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs strongly denied. Nasimi District Police Department chief Musa Musayev appealed to the court, accusing the blogger of slander.
The police chief’s defamation complaint was investigated by the court and Huseynov was subsequently arrested again on 3 March. He is now serving a two-year sentence.