Press release September 3, 2020
Azerbaijan: Opposition Leader Sentenced to Years in Prison On Politically Motivated Charges
Tofig Yagublu and dozens of other citizens arrested on politically motivated charges must be released, and charges against them dropped.
In response to the sentencing of Azerbaijani political opposition leader Tofig Yagublu to four years and three months in prison on politically motivated charges, Freedom House issued the following statement:
"Yagublu’s case is indicative of an intensifying crackdown on government critics, and authorities’ flagrant disregard for free speech and the rule of law,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “The Azerbaijani government openly uses the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions as an opportunity to silence and persecute opponents. Yagublu and dozens of other citizens arrested on politically motivated charges must be released, and charges against them dropped.”
Tofig Yagublu, one of Azerbaijan’s top political opposition actors and deputy chairman of the Musavat party, was sentenced to four years and three months in jail following his arrest on “hooliganism” charges on March 22, 2020, after a staged car accident sparked legal action against him. Yagublu’s arrest came days after President Ilham Aliyev publicly proclaimed that COVID-19 restriction measures could be invoked against any political opposition.
Countless unfair charges, convictions, and prison sentences against opposition leaders and members have occurred throughout President Aliyev’s tenure, and have intensified since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the third politically motivated arrest of Yagublu. The opposition leader announced a hunger strike on September 1, a day before his sentencing.