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Azerbaijan has dropped criminal charges against independent media outlet the Turan Information Agency and its head, Mehman Aliyev, according to the agency.
Turan reported on 2 November that Aliyev had been ‘invited’ to the General Prosecutor’s Office where he met with Rustam Usubov, First Deputy Prosecutor General.
Usubov handed Aliyev an official letter confirming the termination of case against him and the agency, they say.
The letter reportedly said both cases were terminated on 30 October, and that the decision came into force on 2 November. Authorities have also lifted restrictions on Aliyev’s freedom of movement.
‘Thus, the agency can continue its activities as usual’, Turan reported.
A criminal case was launched against Turan on 7 August. According to Human Rights Watch, the Ministry of Taxes had accused Aliyev of failing to register around ₼150,000 ($87,000) in grants that Turan received between 2010–2014, and for failing to pay ₼60,000 ($35,000) in taxes due between 2010–2016.
Aliyev, who was arrested on 24 August, was moved from pretrial detention to house arrest on 11 September. This was followed by reports that the agency’s bank accounts had been unblocked.
Reporters Without Borders have labelled Turan ‘Azerbaijan’s last independent media outlet’. The agency have in the past resisted government censorship. In an interview with OC Media back in July, Aliyev criticised a government programme to give free flats to journalists, saying its aim was to ‘silence the media and control it’.