Azerbaijani opposition activist released after long arrest, ten-day hunger strike
Azerbaijani opposition activist Azad Hasanov, who was in jail on charges of drug trafficking, has been released.
He had been in jail for 10 months and was entering his 10th day of a hunger strike.
Azad Hasanov’s arrest and hunger strike
Azad Hasanov is an activist of the opposition party Musavat.
In 2014, he received political asylum in Lithuania and continued his opposition activities there.
On October 10, 2018, Hasanov arrived in Azerbaijan to visit his seriously ill father. The next day he was arrested and accused of drug trafficking.
Hasanov was facing five to 12 years in prison with the charges against him, and he stated that under the threat of torture, he was forced to admit his guilt.
Azerbaijani human rights activists say this was another case of political repression.
Since then, Azad Hasanov had been in remand prison.
The trial began in February and lasted until August.
On July 22, at a regular court session, Azad Hasanov announced a hunger strike, stating he would not end his hunger strike until the criminal case against him was terminated. But on July 31, he stopped the hunger strike, explaining that he was persuaded by his fellow party members and a lawyer.
On August 5, the charges against Azad Hasanov were softened: “illegal drug trafficking in excess of the allowable rate for personal consumption”, Turan reports.
As a result, Hasan was sentenced to one year in prison. But since he had already served most of this time, the remaining couple of months were replaced with a suspended sentence and he was released in the courtroom.
Hasanov himself does not agree with the verdict, considers it unfair and politically motivated and wants to appeal. He also intends to achieve the right to leave Azerbaijan and return to Lithuania.