MEDIA FREEDOM
Azerbaijan: Press freedom violations March 2019
31 Mar 2019
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

Index on Censorship’s Monitoring and Advocating for Media Freedom project tracks press freedom violations in five countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Learn more.

2 Incidents

Journalist sentenced to five years and six months

18 March 2019 – Baku Grave Crimes Court sentenced Anar Mammadov, editor of an independent news website criminalaz.com to five years and 6 months of suspended sentence reported Azadliq Radio, Azerbaijan Service for Radio Free Europe.

Mammadov, is currently on a two year probation period. He cannot leave the country and must report to the relevant state body.

Mammadov considers himself innocent.

Criminal.az is an independent website covering predominantly crime-related stories. The website was blocked by the authorities in 2017, along with a number of other critical and independent news websites. It later began operating under the criminalaz.com domain, which was recently blocked.

Mammadov was questioned after publishing reports on an attempt on the life of the mayor of Ganja, Elmar Valiyev, on 3 July 2018.

Links: https://mappingmediafreedom.ushahidi.io/posts/22461

https://www.azadliq.org/a/daha-bir-jurnalist%C9%99-5-il-6-ayl%C4%B1q-c%C9%99za/29828069.html

Categories: Arrest/Detention/Interrogation, Criminal Charges/Fines/Sentences; blocked access; legal measures;

Source of violation: Government/State Agency/Public official(s)/Political party; Court/Judicial

Trial of a journalist resumes

27 March 2019 – Ikram Rahimov’s, editor of an online news website realliq.info trial resumed in Baku, reported Azadliq Radio, Azerbaijan Service for Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.

Rahimov was first arrested in October, 2018. Following his arrest the State Security Services issued a statement confirming that Rahimov had been detained, adding that this was on suspicion of attempted blackmail of businessmen about whom he claimed to have damaging information.

Rahimov dismissed the allegations, saying the charges against him were imposed in retaliation for an open letter he had published about presidential aide Ali Hasanov. In this letter, Rahimov accused Hasanov – President Ilham Aliyev’s assistant for public and political affairs – and the media platforms under his control of embezzling large sums of money during the construction of apartments for journalists and violating freedom of expression.

In November 2018 the Baku Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the Sabail District Court to remand Rahimov in custody for two months, Turan reported. Rahimov insisted during the appeal court hearing that he had committed no crime and that there was no legal basis for his arrest. Turan quoted him as saying that he had been arrested on account of his professional activities.

On the same date, the Shirvan Court of Appeal upheld an earlier decision by the Masalli District Court to impose a fine of AZN5000 (2,558 euros) against Rahimov, Turan reported.

During his hearing on March 27, 2019 Rahimov said he was arrested for exposing corruption within the state body for media and the lack of transparency during housing distribution for journalists. Rahimov said, many of the names on the list who received free housing from the government are not even journalists.

The Media Council refuted the claims.

If convicted Rahimov is facing between 5 to 10 years imprisonment.

Links: https://www.azadliq.org/a/ikram-rehimov/29844971.html

https://mappingmediafreedom.ushahidi.io/posts/22809

Categories: Arrest/Detention/Interrogation, Criminal Charges/Fines/Sentences; blocked access;

Sources of violation: Police/State Security; Government/State Agency/Public official(s)/Political party; Court/Judicial

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