This weekend, the Formula 1 European Grand Prix will run through the beautiful streets of Old Baku, in the heart of the Azerbaijani capital. The thought of a collision during the race fills me with dread.
The likes of Pharrell Williams, Chris Brown and Enrique Iglesias were slated to entertain race fans, helping to promote the ruling Aliyev family’s projection of my country as a happy, normal nation.
But Azerbaijan is a country that runs on corruption. Officials can be bought and sold, blind eyes can be turned and crimes can be overlooked if the price is right. The only thing you can’t buy is freedom of speech.… Seguir leyendo »
I am writing this letter from jail in Baku, Azerbaijan, where I’m serving a 7½ -year sentence for a crime I never committed.
I am a journalist and my only “crime” was to investigate high-level corruption within the government and family of Azeri President Ilham Aliyev . Aliyev inherited power from his father in 2003 and changed the constitution in 2009 so he could stay in power indefinitely. He has been called an enemy of the press by international watchdogs, while abusing other fundamental freedoms and violating people’s right to truth and decency.
Aliyev is in Washington this week to attend the Nuclear Security Summit that began Thursday.… Seguir leyendo »
Please forgive my long silence. I was put in solitary confinement after my last letter was passed through these prison bars and published. My cell was searched and all my notes, including lists of things I was requesting from home, were taken. I have not received these back. I guess there are many devoted readers of mine at the penitentiary. They are taking turns reading my notes. That is why it is taking them such a long time to return what they have taken from me.
I have not been allowed to see my family, either. The arbitrariness of the penitentiary system allows me two phone calls each week that I use to speak with my mother but, contrary to the law, denies her and my lawyer regular visits.… Seguir leyendo »