Detention of Teymur Karimov: Crackdown on media continues in Azerbaijan

Foto: Teymur Karimov

The disappearance of Teymur Karimov, the head of Kanal 11 internet television, on December 11th, has taken a distressing turn as reports confirm his detention by the Department of Combating Organized Crime (“Bandotdel”). The charges against Karimov, under Article 182 of the Criminal Code, allege extortion by threat, a move reportedly based on complaints from multiple individuals.

Confirmation of Karimov’s detention was provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, marking a concerning escalation. However, Kanal 11 issued a statement asserting that Karimov had been under prolonged threats due to his video reports. These reports shed light on the plight of Karabakh veterans facing police violence and their subsequent protests, a subject that allegedly triggered the threats against him.

The investigative journalist, also the director of Kanal 11, faced a swift legal process. Following his detention on December 11th, a four-month pretrial detention was ordered for the initial investigation. Subsequently, an arrest warrant was issued on December 12th by Judge Khalida Alisoy of the Narimanov District Court, citing charges under articles 182.2.2 and 182.2.4 of the Criminal Code, specifically emphasizing repeated acts of extortion for substantial property gain.

Karimov vehemently denied these accusations during the court proceedings at the Narimanov District Court on December 12th. He claimed innocence, attributing his arrest to his journalistic endeavors and the critical video reports he had produced. Karimov highlighted a distressing trend, pointing out that six journalists had been arrested in the country since November 20th.

His lawyer, Nemat Karimli, echoed the innocence plea in court, arguing that detention wasn’t necessary for the investigation, even if allegations of extortion existed.

However, the investigating team contended that Karimov might impede the investigation, justifying his detainment to ensure the smooth progress of due process. Following a brief consultation, Judge Khalida Alisoy ruled in favor of a four-month preventive detention for Karimov.

In response to this ruling, Karimli stated intentions to file an appeal against the decision. Karimov’s whereabouts were unknown to his relatives for nearly a day until the Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed his detention on December 12th, charging him with extortion.

Kanal 11 reiterated in a statement that Karimov had been facing pressure due to his incisive video reports, particularly those exposing police violence against Karabakh veterans and their subsequent protests.

The concerning trend of journalist arrests in Azerbaijan escalated over the past three weeks, encompassing several prominent media figures. The statement from Kanal 11 underscored concerns about Karimov being the latest target in a series of suppressive actions against the press, hinting at a larger pattern linked to pre-election repression.

Karimov faces severe imprisonment ranging from 5 to 10 years, adding to the alarmingly high number of journalists detained in Azerbaijan in recent weeks, including individuals known for their investigative work.

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