Azerbaijani journalist remanded in latest move against independent media

By Thomson Reuters Apr 19, 2024 | 7:39 PM

(Reuters) – A court in the Azerbaijani capital Baku on Friday remanded the head of an independent media outlet for two months on charges of smuggling, Turan news agency reported, the latest move against independent journalists in the ex-Soviet state.

Turan said Imran Aliyev, head of the Meclis.info outlet, which reports mainly on Azerbaijan’s parliament, was being held in connection with a case against the Abzas Media group.

Six other employees of the Abzas group have been detained since late last year in the South Caucasus country. Police last November said they had found 40,000 euros ($42,700) in cash in the media outlet’s Baku offices.

Aliyev has been subjected to electric shocks and beatings since being taken into custody at Baku airport on Thursday, Turan quoted the journalist as saying.

International press freedom groups have demanded the release of the Abzas Media staff, describing the arrests as an attempt to silence their anti-corruption reporting.

Nine employees of an independent Azerbaijani television station have also been arrested in connection with a probe into smuggling.

Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry accused the European Union’s ambassador of interfering in its judicial system in January after the envoy said he was “appalled” by reports of the way detained journalists were being treated.

The organisation Reporters without Borders (RSF) ranks Azerbaijan 151st of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)