Baku court mulls international travel ban on journalist

The decision was made on unrecorded travel claims.

Journalist Sevinj Vagifgizi leaving Binagadi District Court with her lawyer. Source: Meydan TV

On January 24, the Binagadi District Court held a hearing on the request to ban journalist Sevinj Vagifgizi from leaving the country.

Vagifgizi was sued by Elmira Alandarova for a video describing her actions during the 2018 presidential election day at school No. 251, which was working as a polling station. Alandarova was the school’s deputy principal at the time. In the video, she appears to be organizing groups and talking with people, which would not be authorized since she was not a member of the election commission.

These images were broadcast on the websites of the Azadlig newspaper and MeydanTV, as well as on social media. The content of the video is, however, only a film footage of Alandrova at the school, without voice-over descriptions or comments. Alandrova accuses Vagifgizi of injuring her honor and dignity.

In the first trial, Sevinj Vagifgizi was fined 1,000 AZR for filming in the presidential election in polling stations and was determined that the journalist would to delete the video and apologize to Alandrova in a open letter to be published at Azadlig and Meydan TV websites. The allegations of degradation of honor and dignity were not considered valid.

Since Vagifgizi did not delete the content neither published the apology letter, Alandrova appealed to the Binagadi District Court asking for a travel ban to the journalist.

The presiding judge has decided to postpone the process until February in order to become more acquainted with the documents of the case. She was informed that her last visit to Germany was not visible in the official system. Yet, according to her, the register is wrong and all her documents are in order, including the immigration stamp in her passport showing that she left and returned to Azerbaijan.

Since Alandarova was not present at the court room, being represented by her husband Rasat Gasimov, the judge postponed the final hearing to February 8.

Note: This article was amended from a previous version on 25 January 2022, in which it was stated that the court had ruled to put a travel ban on Vagifgizi.

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