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Azerbaijan: Eynulla Fatullayev Pardoned Following Twitter Action

This post is part of our special coverage Eurovision Azerbaijan 2012.

Just two days after the UK branch of Amnesty International launched its Twitter campaign to call for the release of Eynulla Fatullayev comes news that the imprisoned journalist and prisoner of conscience has been included in a list of prisoners to be pardoned ahead of the 93rd anniversary of the founding of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic.

Sentenced in 2007, with previous calls for his release from the European Court of Human Rights as well as many other international human rights and media watchdogs falling on deaf ears, the news surprised many, but was nonetheless cautiously spread on Twitter.

@leylanajafli: #Eynulla Fatullayev FREED?? has anyone confirmed? #Azerbaijan

JafarAbdullayev: Deyilənə görə #Eynulla Fətullayev azad edilib.Təki yalan olmasın.

They say #Eynulla Fatullayev is free. Hope it is not a lie.

@leylanajafli: Gulara Azimzadeh also says she got the news by phone “from smb who wouldn't joke about it”… Will confirm once there's smth solid. #Eynulla

@leylanajafli: List of prisoners to be officially pardoned will be on @RadioAzadliq soon – #Eynulla Fatullayev's name expected to be there!

When the news had been officially confirmed Twitter exploded with tweets from pro-democracy activists in Azerbaijan and elsewhere.

@turkhankarim: EYNULLA IS FREE!

@HuseynovaTurkan: #Eynulla Fatullayev is Free!!! #humanrights #Azernaijan

@mejidli: #EYNULLA FETULLAYEV AZADLIQDA! #azerbaijan #azerbaycan

#EYNULLA FATULLAYEV IS FREE! #azerbaijan #azerbaycan

@Peaceweet: Detained #Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev has been freed! Thank you so much everyone, especially @AmnestyOnline This is amazing!

@leylanajafli: Confirmed! #Eynulla Fatullayev has been pardoned ahead of #28may holiday :) @jonsnowC4 @AmnestyUK http://bit.ly/l62UIM

@GozelBayramli: Eynulla fətullayev azadlıqda. Bütün siyası məhbusların tezliklə azad olunmasını tələb edirik…

Eynulla Fatullayev is free. We demand the release of all political prisoners…

@IsaGambar: #Eynulla azadlıqda! Danışdım, formadadı! Davamı gəlsin!

#Eynulla is free. talked to him. he is in good shape. let it flow

@FuserLimon: Reportedly, #Eynulla Fatullayev is already home, drinking tea. We have yet to see photos.

@mirafgan: Daha bir siyasi məhbus AZADLIQDA! Eurovision yaxınlaşdıqca ümid edirəm Azərbaycanda heç siyasi məhbus qalmayacaq! #azerbaijan #eynulla

yet another political prisoner is FREE. i hope there will be no political prisoner in Azerbaijan as eurovision approaches. #azerbaijan #eynulla

The issue of whether bad press following this year's Eurovision Song Contest victory might have had a role in the pardon was also mentioned by others.

@lukeallnutt: #Eynulla Fatullayev pardon: So was it #Amnesty or #Eurovision?

The answer to that question remains unknown, but it is possible that a combination of media attention on Azerbaijan ahead of Eurovision as well as increased campaigning by organizations such as Amnesty International played a significant role.

@AmnestyUK: Our twitter action this week was the culmination of years of work by so many organisations. And all of you. Thank you. #Eynulla #Azerbaijan

@lukeallnutt: kudos to @AmnestyUK MT @Golnaz Esfandiari I just interviewed #Eynulla who said Amnesty International played a key role in his release

@jonsnowC4: Utterlly amazing news: Azabaijan has freed the editor Eynulla after Amnesty's massTweet.thanks for everyone's help: the power of Twitter!!

@adewolff: In repressive #Azerbaijan, long-time jailed journalist #Eynulla was freed. Thanks to int'l pressure and #Eurovision. Let's remain watchful.

@emajidli: More good news! Seeing reports that #Eynulla Fatullayev is free! Eurovision can transform #Azerbaijan !

@emajidli: The “Eurovision affect” in Azerbaijan: Most famous political prisoner Eynulla Fatullayev set free after 4 years in jail on politically motivated charges!! Deep sigh for the country!! Wish the other activists staying behind teh bars on politac charges be freed soon!!

@leylanajafli: #Eynulla Fatullayev at home! Reminds me of the feeling I had after Adnan and Emin were freed. #Azerbaijan

However, with pro-government activists from the İRƏLİ Public Union attempting to disrupt the Amnesty campaign to release Fatullayev, many remain concerned that the arrests of outspoken critics might still continue.

@adewolff: And thus, the #Ireli chief concludes this day of disappointment for his band of collaborators. RT @raufmardiyev: We'll be back :)

@parvanapersiani: @adewolff @raufmardiyev with new arrests? oh, we never doubt it :)

For Eynulla Fatullayev, however, it probably doesn't matter… for now at least.

@turkhankarim: Eynulla bütün onu dəstəkləyənlərə çox sağol deyir: “Hamınızı sevirəm…”

Eynulla says many thanks to those who supported him: “I love you all…”

This post is part of our special coverage Eurovision Azerbaijan 2012.

Azerbaijani translations courtesy of Pervin Muradli.

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