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Another online media outlet blocked in Azerbaijan

Info-portal accused of slander against a presidential aide

Baku’s Sabail Court has decided to block the Az24saat.org information site on charges of slandering the name of Ali Hasanov, a presidential aide. This is the third such case in two months.

The complaint against the site was submitted not by Hasanov himself, but by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies. According to the head of the website, Bagar Gurdganli, he and his lawyers asked the court to give them an opportunity to study the Ministry’s appeal in detail, but their request was denied.

Representatives of the ministry at the court said that the site published slanderous and biased articles about Ali Hasanov, and that the ministry found problems with several articles.

One such article stated that Ali Hasanov was given a birthday party by the Press Council.

Another two pieces spoke critically of Hasanov’s role as presidential advisor and discussed his role in the closing down of Azerbaijan’s Press Agency.

First the ministry requested the site to remove these materials, and when the request was ignored, filed a lawsuit based on an article of the law regarding information and data protection.

Sites Xural.com and Arqument.az are also awaiting trials on the same charges.

Another two Azerbaijani sites, bastainfo.com and criminalaz.com suffered a similar fate in June. These sites were blocked after being accused of incorrect coverage of an assassination attempt on the mayor of Ganja city, and the public unrest that ensued.

“The state does everything so that conducting journalism in Azerbaijan becomes impossible,” journalist Khadija Ismayilova commented on her Facebook page in her assessment of the events.

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