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 August 2014, amidst widespread repression of journalists and human rights activists, and has been sheltered in the Swiss embassy in Baku ever since.
Huseynov founded the IRFS on World Press Freedom Day (3 May) in 2006, along with fellow former Turan News Agency reporter Sarvan Rizvanov. The IRFS has partnered various major human rights and media rights organisations in order to publicise instances of violence and repression against journalists throughout Azerbaijan. The organisation provided journalists with legal assistance, investigated attacks against them and produced several reports on the press restrictions in Azerbaijan beore being effectively shut down by the government.
The Azerbaijan government’s attacks [LINK to pol. situation] on civil society, journalists and human rights defenders have intensified in the last few years. In June 2014, Huseynov’s bank account was frozen. As his colleagues and fellow activists were imprisoned and beaten, and having been severely beaten himself in 2008, Huseynov feared for his own safety.
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 IRFS’ headquarters were under surveillance. The office was raided shortly thereafter, and Huseynov sought protection at the Swiss Embassy, which is surrounded by police despite the government’s refusal to acknowledge that they know he’s in the embassy. After he went into hiding, Huseynov was been charged with tax evasion and abuse of power. He faces a sentence of up to 12 years if he leaves the embassy.