Azerbaijani police have arrested the founder and director of the independent online TV channel Kanal 13, a week after the authorities raided the offices of AbzasMedia and arrested its management.
Aziz Orujov was detained in Baku on Monday. On Tuesday, a court remanded him into three months of pre-trial detention on charges of building a house without a permit. If found guilty, he faces up to three years in prison.
Orujov’s lawyer, Bahruz Bayramov, said the charges aimed to restrict Kanal 13’s work.
Bayramov argued that the court had ‘no reason’ to place Orujov in pre-trial detention. ‘[His] place of residence is known; he can’t run away and hide’, he said.
Before his detention on Monday evening, police searched Orujov’s house and offices. They later also searched his car.
The arrest comes a week after police arrested AbzasMedia’s director, Ulvi Hasanli, deputy director, Mahammad Kekalov, and editor-in-chief, Sevinj Vagifgizi. The three have been charged with smuggling money and face up to eight years in prison if convicted.
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Kanal 13 is an independent online TV station broadcasting on YouTube covering politics and social issues.
Orujov was previously detained in 2017 on charges of running a company without registering it in Azerbaijan and of abuse of power. He was sentenced to six years in prison but released on probation the following year after the Supreme Court cleared him of illegal entrepreneurship.