MEDIA FREEDOM
Azerbaijan: Press freedom violations July 2019
06 Aug 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.

5 Incidents

Editor detained during border crossing

31 July 2019 – Editor of an online website hefteaz.info Agil Mahmudov was detained while crossing the Azerbaijan-Georgia border independent Turan news agency reported. 

Mahmudov was informed that a travel ban has been imposed against the journalist by the Ministry of the Interior. 

The reason for the imposed travel ban is reportedly Mahmudov’s administrative arrest in 2018. 

Mahmudov said the ban was absolutely illegal as he completed the full sentence which was twenty days. The journalist plans to appeal the travel ban. 

Links: https://www.contact.az/ext/news/2019/7/free/Social/en/82742.htm

https://www.eng.kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/47978/

Categories: arrest/detention/interrogation; 

Sources of violation: government/state agency/public official/political party; 

Editor now allowed to leave the country

Update:

3 August 2019 – Travel ban on the journalist Parviz Hashimli was reportedly lifted according to independent Turan news agency. 

Hashimli, said, he was informed via a phone call from the Baku city prosecutor office. 

30 July 2019 – Former political prisoner, journalist and editor of an online news site gununsesi.org Parviz Hashimli, was prevented from leaving the country reported independent Turan news agency. 

Hashimli was stopped while crossing Azerbaijan-Russia border and informed his travel ban imposed last year was still valid. 

Hashimli has appealed to remove the travel ban in May. 

Links: https://www.contact.az/ext/news/2019/7/free/Social/en/82698.htm

https://www.contact.az/ext/news/2019/8/free/Social/en/82812.htm

Categories: criminal charges/fines/sentences; subpoena/court order/lawsuit

Sources of violation: government/state agency/public official/political party

Police disperse journalists during a protest

Seymur Hezi was arrested in August 2014. He was subsequently convicted of aggravated hooliganism and sentenced to five years in prison.

Journalist Seymur Hezi was arrested in August 2014. He was subsequently convicted of aggravated hooliganism and sentenced to five years in prison.

22 July 2019 – 22 July marked National Press day in Azerbaijan. A group of journalists gathered outside the press council offices in the capital Baku reported independent Azadliq Radio, Azerbaijan service for Radio Free Europe. 

The group first gathered outside the ministry of internal affairs and then moved to the headquarters of the press council office calling to end persecution of journalists in the country and immediate release of journalists Afgan Mukhtarli and Seymur Hezi. 

Police dispersed the group and briefly detained one reporter from online TV channel Kanal 13.

The group did manage to meet with the spokeperson for the press council and asked him why there the council it not pressurising authorities to release journalists. The spokeperson, said, the council has not received any official complaint from the journalists about their difficult working conditions or imprisoned journalists. 

Links: https://oc-media.org/journalist-detained-in-baku-on-national-press-day/

https://www.azadliq.org/a/reportyorlar-etiraz-etdil%C9%99r-/30068663.html

Categories: arrest/detention/interrogation; 

Source of violation: police/state security 

Website DDoSed (virtual road)

18 July 2019 – Exiled news media platform azerbaycansaati.tv was knocked offline. The site became unreachable and its domain name was no longer available, according to Qurium, that supports a number of DDoSed websites in Azerbaijan. 

Following detailed analysis, Qurium Media Foundation was able to confirm that the website was indeed DDoSed. 

Links: https://www.qurium.org/alerts/azerbaijan/ddos-the-inconvenient-business-visitor/

Categories: ddos/hacking/doxing; 

Source of violation: unknown

Journalist summoned for questioning

3 July 2019 – Anar Mammadov, editor for criminal.az online news site, was called in for questioning by police, Azadliq Radio reported. 

In an interview with the outlet, Mammadov said that the police wanted to speak to him about two articles the website he is managing published recently. 

The first article is about a robbery and the inability of the local police officers to solve the crime. The second article is about the alleged thief, who was arrested and released the following day. 

Mammadov told Azadliq Radio that during the questioning police officers were polite but said that Mammadov was biased and was unjust to law enforcement.

Azadliq Radio is the Azerbaijan service for Radio Free Europe.

Background

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://www.azadliq.org/a/anar-m%C9%99mm%C9%99dova-polisd%C9%99-n%C9%99-deyilib/30035526.html

https://gozetci.az/en/report/?item=1053

Categories: arrest/detention/interrogation; criminal charges/fines/sentences; subpoena/court order/lawsuits; legal measures; 

Source of violation: police/state security; government/state agency/public officials/political party; court/judicial

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