OrudjevAziz Orudjev speaks to reporters after being released from prison, 5 April 2018. Photo courtesy of the Orudjev family.COPENHAGEN, 6 April 2018 – Ignacio Sanchez Amor (MP, Spain), Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee, today welcomed the release of journalist Aziz Orudjev, CEO of the Internet TV channel Canal 13, who was freed from prison in Azerbaijan on Thursday. Sanchez Amor expressed hope that this signals an increased commitment to the rule of law in Azerbaijan. He said that other imprisoned journalists and activists should also be released.

“I welcome Mr. Orudjev’s release, which hopefully marks a step toward progress in the field of democratic development and respect for human rights, including freedom of the media. All unjustly imprisoned journalists and bloggers should be released,” Sanchez Amor said.

The human rights committee chair expressed appreciation for the personal involvement of OSCE PA President George Tsereteli (MP, Georgia), who visited Mr. Orudjev in prison last month, as well as another jailed journalist, Mehman Huseynov. On that occasion, President Tsereteli observed conditions in the prison and expressed hope to see both Orudjev and Huseynov freed soon.

Tsereteli and HuseynovGeorge Tsereteli (right) visiting journalist Mehman Huseynov in prison on 16 March in Azerbaijan. Huseynov remains imprisoned.During his official visit to Baku on 12-13 March, President Tsereteli raised the issue of media freedom with authorities, including President Ilham Aliyev, and said: “Democratic reforms, particularly on freedom of the media and on creating conditions to maximize the contribution of civil society, should be addressed adequately. Democratic and economic reforms in Azerbaijan mean increased security and stability in the OSCE.”

Sanchez Amor also acknowledged the involvement of OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir, who intervened in December 2017 by calling on Azerbaijani authorities to review the court’s verdict and to end restrictive measures detrimental to Orudjev’s freedom and safety.

Originally sentenced to six years of imprisonment last year, Aziz Orudjev’s sentence was reduced to three years, of which he had served less than a year. On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan considered his cassation appeal, partially cancelled the verdict and ordered his release.