In response to developments tied to the AbzasMedia case, individuals affected by account blockages and property seizures voiced dissatisfaction with the outcomes of their complaints.
The individuals involved in the AbzasMedia case, which encompassed director Ulvi Hasanli, editor-in-chief Sevinj Vagifqizi (Abbasova), journalists Nargiz Absalamova, and Hafiz Babali, alongside their relatives and individuals interrogated during the investigation, encountered limitations on accessing their bank accounts and properties.
These measures, which also mandated the disclosure of tax and ownership details to the Baku City Police Department, were authorized by the Khatai District Court in late November, prompted by a request from investigative authorities. Following this appeals against these decisions were lodged by the affected parties and evaluated on December 20 at the Baku Court of Appeal, where incarcerated journalists participated in the proceedings.
During the court sessions, both appellants and their legal representatives contended that the Khatai District Court’s decisions lacked legal validity. Ofelya Maharramova, Sevinj Vagifqizi’s mother, raised concerns about health issues, citing her status as a second-group disability pension recipient due to a heart condition. She expressed distress over the sudden blockage of her pension card without cause, stating, “Those who blocked my pension card don’t think about how this person has to make a living?”
Economist Togrul Valiyev, whose salary was officially routed through a bank account based on employment contracts, reported the blockage of his salary card. Similarly, Hafiz Babaly, a recipient of disability pensions due to vision impairment, disclosed the pre-arrest blockage of his pension card.
Babaly asserted a potential motive behind their arrests, connecting it to investigations into family members’ business dealings and assets belonging to Ali Nagiyev, the head of the State Security Service. Babaly claimed that during a residence search, authorities confiscated his shares in various companies, verifying his ownership.
Sevinj Vagifqizi and Ulvi Hasanli emphasized their exposure to alleged government corruption. Vagifqizi criticized the authorities, claiming, “This government does not treat its citizens with dignity,” accusing law enforcement of oppression and suggesting judicial corruption.
Despite objections from the appellants and their legal representatives, interruptions by judges occurred during court sessions. Ulvi Hasanli protested, questioning, “But where should we say our word?”
Lawyers argued that the Khatai District Court’s restrictions lacked substantiation, stressing the necessity for legal justifications as required by legislation. However, despite multiple appeals, none of the three court proceedings resulted in a favorable outcome for those affected by decisions linked to the AbzasMedia case.
Zibeyda Sadigova, a lawyer, highlighted the finality of appellate court decisions on such matters, explaining the absence of recourse to the Supreme Court after the Baku Appellate Court’s ruling. Consequently, the affected parties plan to file complaints with the European Court after exhausting domestic legal avenues.
Individuals impacted, including relatives and case witnesses, expressed financial hardships due to these decisions. They reported facing significant financial challenges resulting from account and card blockages.
The series of arrests tied to AbzasMedia began on November 20, starting with Ulvi Hasanli’s detention, followed by Mahammad Kekalov, Sevinj Vagifgizi, Nargiz Absalamova, and Hafiz Babali. The journalists contested charges against them under Article 206.3.2 of the Criminal Code, deeming the allegations baseless and attributing their situation to investigations uncovering corruption within AbzasMedia.