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Anar Orujov, took to his social media to announce the detainment of his brother, Aziz Orujov, the director of “Kanal 13” internet television.
The situation escalated when a search warrant was issued by the Sabail District Court, prompting a thorough search of Aziz Orujov’s residence. The search, initiated around 18:00 on November 27, was confirmed by his legal representative, Bahruz Bayramov.
Bayramov, in conversation with Meydan TV, confirmed the arrival of officials mandated by the court order. However, the rationale behind the search remains ambiguous. “Nothing is known about the reason for the search,” Bayramov expressed, raising further questions about the motives behind these actions.
This incident isn’t Aziz Orujov’s first encounter with legal repercussions. Back in May 2017, he faced 30 days of administrative detention, swiftly followed by the initiation of a criminal case on June 1 of the same year. The charges against him were rooted in allegations of illegal entrepreneurship and the abuse of official powers, resulting in a six-year prison sentence. However, a pivotal decision by the Supreme Court in April 2018 granted him conditional release.
Aziz Orujov vehemently denies these allegations, attributing the legal actions against him and his internet television platform to their critical stance towards certain activities of the government. He strongly denies the allegations and claims that there are political reasons behind the current unrest.
As the situation unfolds, together with the AbsazMedia case, concerns regarding press freedom and the exercise of civil liberties in Azerbaijan continue to grow.
A decision by Judge Sulhane Hajiyeva in the Khatai District Court has led to a 3-month and 29-day detention order against Sevinj Vagifqizi, the editor-in-chief of AbzasMedia.
The court’s decision stemmed from the prosecution’s assertion during presentations that Vagifqizi should remain in pretrial detention while investigations proceed. Her defense vehemently opposed this move, asserting the unsubstantiated nature of the allegations and calling for their dismissal.
Vagifqizi stood firm, maintaining her innocence and connecting her arrest to AbzasMedia’s journalistic endeavors. Specifically, she contested the charges under Article 206.3.2 of the Criminal Code, dismissing accusations of involvement in group smuggling and linking her detention to the outlet’s investigations into corruption among the ruling class.
The defense highlighted Vagifqizi’s recent return to Azerbaijan, despite the looming threat of arrest, as evidence against claims of evading investigation. Despite these arguments, the judge ruled in favor of the prosecution, resulting in her detention.
Legal representatives affirmed their intention to appeal these decisions, stating their disagreement with the court’s rulings. Meanwhile, the arrests unfolded with Vagifqizi being detained upon arrival from Istanbul, followed by a subsequent search of her residence, yielding no incriminating evidence.
Ulvin Hasanli, director of AbsazMedia was apprehended while boarding a taxi in front of his residence the previous morning, followed by a search of the AbzasMedia office later that day, where authorities allegedly found 40,000 euros. Hasanli has been sentenced to four months in jail.
Amid mounting concerns over press freedom, international entities have rallied, urging Azerbaijani authorities to halt what they perceive as undue pressure on independent media. They have labeled Vagifqizi’s detention and the wider circumstances as retaliatory measures against the press, calling for her immediate release to safeguard freedom of expression in the country.
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