Azerbaijan arrests journalists following stories of presidential and governmental corruption – JURIST

Azerbaijan arrested the editor-in-chief Sevinj Vagifgizi and director Ulvi Hasanli of the privately-owned impartial Abzas Media. The Committee to Shield Journalists (CPJ) has called for the discharge of the journalists and requested that Azerbaijan authorities “enable Abzas Media to proceed its important public curiosity reporting.”

Azerbaijan police detained Hasanli on Monday after which searched his condominium and Abzas’s Baku office. Police allegedly discovered 40,000 Euros belonging to Hasanli, which Hasanli claimed police planted to justify his arrest. On Tuesday, police arrested Vagifgizi on the Baku airport upon her return from a enterprise journey and searched her dwelling. Moreover, Hasanli’s assistant, Mahammad Kekalov, has been lacking since Monday. He was taken from his dwelling in Baku by people in civilian clothes.

On Tuesday, the district courtroom of Baku charged the journalists with smuggling international foreign money and issued a choice to detain them for 4 months. If discovered responsible, they resist eight years of imprisonment below Article 206.3.2 of the Prison Code of Azerbaijan.

The journalists deny all allegations, branding the arrests as retaliation for Abzas Media’s investigations into corruption involving relations of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and state officers. Abzas Media stated that the detention and searches have been unlawful.

This isn’t the primary time journalists have confronted repercussions for exposing authorities corruption in Azerbaijan. In 2020, the European Courtroom of Human Rights dominated that Khadija Ismayilova’s arrest and detention have been an try to silence and punish her for criticizing the Azerbaijani authorities and inspecting the alleged involvement of Aliyev’s household in unlawful enterprise actions.

Aliyev has served as president of Azerbaijan since 2003, successful the election with 76 % of votes. Earlier than him, his father Heydar Aliyev dominated the nation, not lengthy after the collapse of the Soviet Union, from 1993 to 2003. Azerbaijan’s constitutional adjustments to increase the length and phrases of presidential workplace confronted significant criticism in 2006. In 2021, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project reported that the Aliyev household holds a whole bunch of tens of millions in international properties, offshore accounts and firms.

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