While the saga of Emin and Adnan might have ended with the final verdict made on Wednesday last week (November 11), the reactions to the arrest continue. A number of international institutions such as Committee to Protect Journalists, OSCE, Council of Europe, US State Department, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House and many others expressed their concerns regarding the verdict, finding it "groundless", demanding an "immediate release" and etc.
It didn't take long for the government of Azerbaijan to come up with their own response. In fact, heavy criticisms were made towards foreign institutions. A statement appeared in newspapers yesterday from the Deputy Foreign Minister Vagif Sadigov to the statements issued by Norwegian and German Embassies in Azerbaijan. In his response to the international statements, Sadigov stressed his surprise and pity, nothing that the court was held according to Azerbaijani laws and procedures (which are indeed perfect on paper but not so much in practice) adding that all the hearings were transparent and reflected in media. Deputy further noted that the statements were received as groundless and affect relations between Azerbaijan and these two countries negatively.
The chief of public and political department of the Presidential Administration, Ali Hasanov's statement on November 16 however was really the icing on the cake. In his press statement Hasanov noted that the "Judicial system in Azerbaijan is independent and executive authorities cannot influence its decisions [...] Azerbaijani laws are applied equally to all citizens and we do not make distinction between those who are closer to the West and all the others" (even though the judge at the court, failed to evaluate evidence suggesting Babek and Vusal's - alleged "victims"- clear involvement and their crime- so the law clearly didn't apply to them) [...] Azerbaijan has more freedom of speech than such European countries as Germany and France".
Perhaps tomorrow or very soon, Honorable Mr. Hasanov will say that Azerbaijan has no human rights problems, no corruption (according to most recent Transparency International Report for 2009, Azerbaijan was worse off among its neighbors with 2.3 rate (0- worse off; 10- no corruption), gull equality, freedom and liberty.
Nobody knows, but this has definitely been a year of surprises so perhaps we will have many more to come.