‘‘It is shocking that the authorities in Turkey have gone to such great lengths to identify Zeynalov through his Twitter account and track him down for deportation.’’ said Mogens Blicher Bjerregård. ‘‘It is clearly a systematic targeting of journalists with the aim to silence their critical voices.’’
According to media reports, Zeynalov works for the English-language daily Today’s Zamnan which publishes critical articles about the government. He was accused by the Prime Ministry’s Co-ordination Center for making false statements in two of his tweets, and of inciting hatred and animosity at the end of December.
The EFJ affiliate in Azerbaijan, JuHI, and his employer have confirmed that he has been deported last Friday and banned from entering Turkey even though he has a residence and work permit. Zeynalov has married to a Turkish residence for 15 months and is entitled to reside in Turkey.
‘‘We can see a worrying trend being developed in Turkey,’’ said Ricardo Gutierrez, EFJ General Secretary. ‘‘Critical journalists are being punished by either imprisonment or deportation. Even in the online sphere, critical voices are stifled by the new internet bill.’’
‘‘We demand the authorities to drop the criminal charges against Zeynalov and allow him to return to Turkey to work and unite with his family.’’ demanded Blicher Bjerregård.
On 6 February, Turkey’s Parliament has passed a draconian bill to limit freedom of speech and freedom of the press online in the guise of protection of online privacy. The new law will allow the telecommunications authority to block asses to websites that are deemed violating privacy or containing ‘insulting’ content without a court order.
The adoption of the internet bill has led to international outcry. The U.S. President, Mr. Barack Obama, has publicly denounced the bill and called on the President of Turkey Abdullah Gül to veto the controversial internet bill. The EFJ has also urged President Gül and the parliament drop the bill immediately.