Prisoner of Conscience: Niyameddin Ahmadov
In October 2020 an Azerbaijani court sentenced Niyamaddin Ahmadov, a member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, APFP, аnd a former bodyguard of its leader, to 13 years in jail for financing terrorism. The verdict could be appealed.
No relatives and supporters of Ahmadov were allowed to attend the hearing when the sentence was delivered. In the meantime, police arrested several party activists who had gathered in front of the courthouse.
Ahmadov was a former bodyguard of APFP’s chairman, Ali Karimli. In May 2021 the party issued a statement condemning the arrest and calling it “political revenge”. During the trial, Ahmadov maintained his innocence and denied any wrongdoing. He also told the court that during his detention he had been tortured and harassed.
Ahmadov was arrested in the spring along with several other party members for "violating quarantine measures and disobeying the lawful demands of a police officer" and placed in custody for 30 days. He was later charged with financing terrorism. The authorities claimed that the former bodyguard had received money from an Azerbaijani blogger living in exile in Germany to finance terrorist attacks against public figures and the government. He was also accused of owning a pair of glasses equipped with a hidden camera, which is prohibited by local legislation.
The family and friends of the APFP activist were not allowed to visit him in prison and he was not even allowed to talk to them on the phone for months, local media reported.
Azerbaijan human rights organizations said that Ahmadov had been detained on trumped-up charges and recognized him as a political prisoner.
APFP’s members and activists have been a target of President Ilham Aliyev’s attempts to crack down on opposition parties and further cement his power. In the summer of 2020, for example, Aliyev accused the party of staging mass anti-government protests. As a result, dozens of APFP’s members, including senior leaders, were detained on “politically motivated charges ranging from violating public order to resisting police", according to Amnesty International's country report.
In March 2022, Ahmadov went on hunger strike.
Disclaimer: As of May 2022, Niyamaddin Ahmadov is still in prison, serving the remainder of his sentence.
Prisoners of Conscience from East and Southeast Europe
We feature select few prisoners of conscience out of the many in East and Southeast Europe. One political prisoner is one too many.
Find out who the other political prisoners are #PrisonersofConscience #FreeThemAll and in the special Focus on our website.