Emin Huseynov is a 35-year-old Azerbaijani journalist and chairman of the country’s leading media rights group, the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS). Huseynov was forced into hiding in August 2014, amidst widespread repression of journalists and human rights activists, and was sheltered in the Swiss embassy in Baku until Friday 12 June, when he travelled to Switzerland on a humanitarian visa. His application for asylum was approved four months later.
Emin sought shelter at the Embassy in order to avoid his imminent arrest on fabricated charges — an act of revenge by the Azerbaijani regime in response to his criticism of the country’s poor human rights record in the international arena. On 6 August, Huseynov tried to leave the country for medical help in Turkey but was turned away at the border, and on 8 August, his colleagues told him that the IRFS headquarters were under surveillance. The office was raided shortly thereafter, and Huseynov sought protection at the Swiss Embassy.
Emin Huseynov has long been at the forefront of promoting freedom of expression and free media in his home country of Azerbaijan. He is a tireless defender of human rights, not only in his native Azerbaijan but also throughout the former Soviet Union and beyond. He has advocated for hundreds of journalists, bloggers and free speech activists under threat in Azerbaijan and across the region. Emin Huseynov has worked as a human rights defender for over a decade and has been a victim of harassment and threats since 2003.
Today, Emin Huseynov’s right to freedom of expression needs to be defended.