The Committee's Secretary General, Bjørn Engesland, announced the award in Oslo on October 6, noting the "sad fact" that Azerbaijan's political prisoners "are too numerous to all be mentioned here."
The Committee has documented 98 political prisoners, among them 13 journalists and bloggers. In addition, the prisoners include 10 human rights defenders and civil society activists, nine youth activists, a prominent opposition leader, "and many other opposing voices and religious activists."
In a press release, the Committee noted that Azerbaijan assumed the Presidency of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers this year.
"Just weeks after Azerbaijan took over the chairmanship in May 2014, a new wave of detention of activists started. In what appears as a sign of contempt against the Council of Europe institutions, this wave in particular hit human rights defenders who have worked hard with the Council for the recognition and release of Azerbaijani political prisoners."
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee established The Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award in 1980 with the consent and support of Andrei Sakharov, "to assist and support people who were imprisoned or persecuted because of their opinions, beliefs or conscience."
More on the award, the laureates, and the NHC is here.