On August 3rd, an Azerbaijani court will examine accusations against Radio Azadliq.
The president of Radio Azadliq, Thomas Kent, said that Radio Azadliq’s offices in Baku were closed on the basis of these accusations:
“The unfounded allegations made against us by the court must be withdrawn. The attorney general must immediately unfreeze our office’s bank accounts in addition to those of our workers. Our confiscated seals and other documents must be returned as well, so that we can continue our mission to provide independent news and reporting to the Azerbaijani nation.”
Earlier this year, the Azerbaijani High Court rescinded two accusations against Radio Azadliq journalist Khadija Ismayilova in addition to two other charges against the office of Radio Azadliq. Khadija Ismayilova was released from prison in May.
Of the remaining two charges against Radio Azadliq, one pertains to a bi-lateral American – Azerbaijani non-profit organization tax exemption law, interpreted differently by Azerbaijani courts. The second accusation pertains to the accreditation of the journalists. This second issue was examined on the first of July, and Radio Azadliq was freed from the accusations made against it.
After the raid by the Azerbaijani government on December 26th of 2014, in 2015 in May, Radio Azadliq’s bureau was forced to close its Baku office.
At the same time, investigators from the attorney general’s office confiscated the company’s property. Up to 20 company employees were interrogated without the presence of a lawyer, and the employees were forbidden from leaving the country on unclear premises. Allegedly for reasons of tax inspection, the bank accounts of the company and its employers remain frozen.
Only a few weeks before the raid, the Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliyev and his administration accused Radio Azadliq of espionage and named the organization a danger to national security in government controlled press.
Despite the closing of the Baku office, Radio Azadliq has maintained its activity in the country through satellite and internet broadcasting.
In the first 6 months of 2016, Radio Azadliq had more than 1.5 million hits and its YouTube video channel had more than 20 million views.