Another journalist detained in Azerbaijan
Political arrests in Azerbaijan
The head of another independent publication, Aziz Orujev, from the Kanal 13 Internet channel, has been detained in Azerbaijan. police conducted searches at Orujev’s residence and the channel’s office.
The specific accusations against the journalist are not yet clear. However, his arrest coincides with publications regarding illegal grants from European and American organizations allegedly brought into the country through smuggling, as well as the arrest of the management of the Internet publication Abzas Media.
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On November 27, police conducted a raid at the residence of Aziz Orujev, the executive director of the YouTube channel Kanal 13. According to his wife, Lamiya Orujeva, the search was conducted with a court order and in the presence of lawyer Bakhruz Bayramov.
“There are currently 8 police officers at our house. Only one has an open face; all the others are wearing masks. They will not disclose the reasons for the search or what they are looking for. Later, they took Aziz away. They did not even specify where exactly they were taking him,” Lamiya Orujeva said.
Lawyer Bahruz Bayramov stated that the search was conducted based on a court order.
“Aziz Orujev bought a plot of land in Baku a few years ago in the area called ‘Section 20’ and allegedly built an illegal house there. This is how they justified the reason for the search. But after the search of his house, his office was also searched.”
Kanal 13 Director Aziz Orujev has a history of facing prosecution on charges of economic crimes. In 2017, he received a 6-year prison sentence, which was later commuted in 2018, leading to his release on parole. In recent years, the channel has been operating in the format of a YouTube channel.
Last week the director, deputy assistant, and editor-in-chief of the independent Internet publication Abzas Media were arrested. All three face charges under Article 206.3.2 (smuggling by a group of persons by prior conspiracy) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan. As per the court decision, they have all been placed in four months of preliminary arrest.
On November 27, the Baku Court of Appeal upheld the detention of editor-in-chief Sevinj Vagifgizi and director Ulvi Hasanli. The state-appointed lawyer for assistant director Mahammad Kekalov did not appeal against his client’s arrest.
Sevinj Vagifgizi’s mother, Ofelia Maharramova, asserted that her daughter is innocent and detained on fabricated charges. She questioned the validity of the prosecution’s claim about finding a large sum of money in the editorial office, emphasizing the absence of Sevinj’s fingerprints on the banknotes.
According to Maharramova, Vagifgizi is restricted from communicating with her family via telephone. Maharramova mentioned that her daughter was aware of the possibility of arrest in Baku and had been advised not to return. Vagifgizi insisted on continuing her journalistic work despite the anticipated risks.
Lawyer Zibeyda Sadigova reported that Ulvi Hasanli also denies the accusations, and like Vagifgizi, he is denied the opportunity of telephone communication and meetings with family members.
The lawyers plan to submit a separate complaint on the issue.
Vagifgizi has also filed a complaint regarding the violation of the presumption of innocence by the Report agency, which portrayed Vagifgizi and Hasanli as having committed a crime, despite the ongoing investigation. According to lawyer Fariz Namazli, the appeals court did not address this complaint either.