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Shutting down 5 Azerbaijan websites on court agenda

Public figures and journalists not allowed in courtroom

5 Azerbaijani websites: azadlıq.info, azadlıq.org, azərbaycansaatı.com, meydan.tv, Turan TV company and ‘Azərbaycan saatı’ (‘Azerbaijani Hour’) program, will be shut down if the court finds that they are posing a risk to Azerbaijani statehood and the public (that’s how the charges have been formulated). A corresponding lawsuit was filed by the Electronic Security Center (ESC) under the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies of Azerbaijan. The first court hearing was held in Baku City Sabail District Court, on 27 April.

Journalists, human rights activists and public figures, as well as representatives of some diplomatic missions in Baku, came for the court hearing. However, only a few people were allowed to attend the open trial.

Alesker Mammadli, a lawyer and media expert, drew up a formal note on the non-admission to the courtroom, which was signed by those who were not allowed to attend the trial. Mammadli is expected to appeal to the court in this regard.

According to Elchin Sadygov, Meydan TV’s lawyer, the prosecution claims that the aforesaid media outlets’ activity is posing a risk to the state and public:

“We requested to show us the documents substantiating the charges, but no such documents have been produced.”

As Samed Rahimli, a lawyer of the opposition’s allied ‘azadlıq.info’ website told journalists, the court hearing was postponed upon request of representatives of the defence party.

Alesker Mammadli, a media expert, believes that such form of banning critical media by the authorities is an inappropriate move for the democratic government.

Rovshan Hacibeyli, an editor of ‘azadlıq.info’ media outlet, says he is going to file a counterclaim in connection with blocking the websites.

“We submitted numerous inquiries on the reasons for closing the websites. Whereas they turned to court. They claim we are disseminating anti-national and anti-statehood information. But what kind of information is that? What does it imply? Unfortunately, it hasn’t been reported.”

The court proceedings will continue on the 1st of May, at 3 p.m.

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