European Federation of Journalists

We call on Azerbaijan to release all journalists in prison

Credits: Council of Europe.

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) joins the appeal launched today by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, for the release of journalists and civil society activists imprisoned in Azerbaijan for their legitimate work or for expressing dissenting or critical opinions.

“The increasing repression faced by journalists and civil society members in Azerbaijan is reason for deep concern”, said today Dunja Mijatović, referring to the arrests, detentions and judicial harassment that are stifling freedom of expression in the country.

“In recent months, the Azerbaijani authorities have intensified the crackdown on independent media, civil society and activists who were legitimately carrying their work or manifesting dissenting opinions or critical views of the government. In November 2023, at least six journalists were arrested on dubious charges, including the director of Abzas Media, Ulvi Hasanli, and its chief editor Sevinj Vagifgyzy, the founder of Kanal 13 online television channel, Aziz Orujov and its host, Rufat Muradli, as well as independent journalist Teymur Karimov. Several other journalists were questioned and reported harassment and receiving threats in connection with their journalistic activities and critical reporting. At the beginning of March 2024, the police raided the offices of the independent online television station Toplum TV and detained its founder, Alasgar Mammadli, and journalist Mushfig Jabbar. I have also been following with concern the situation of other people detained or harassed for their legitimate activities in Azerbaijan, including Gubad Ibadoghlu, an academic and a prominent civil society figure, who is suffering from several serious health conditions while in detention,” said Dunja Mijatović.

Last month, a court in Baku sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment the independent journalist Avaz Zeynalli. On 7 March, the Xatai District Court extended journalist Elnara Gasimova’s pretrial detention until the 13 June 2024. She is charged with “conspiring to bring money into the country unlawfully”.

The EFJ joins Dunja Mijatović in urging the Azerbaijani government to release of all those, including journalists and civil society activists, who were imprisoned for their legitimate work or for expressing dissenting or critical opinions.

According to the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism, 22 journalists and media workers are in prison iin Azerbaijan.