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Azerbaijan detains fourth AbzasMedia employee in ongoing crackdown

1 December 2023
AbzasMedia journalist Nargiz Absalamova. Image via Facebook.

Azerbaijani police have detained a fourth AbzasMedia employee in the ongoing crackdown on the outlet, after raiding their offices and arresting members of their management last week.

On Friday, journalist Nargiz Absalamova, 25, was remanded to three months of pre-trial detention on charges of smuggling as part of a group.

AbzasMedia director Ulvi Hasanli, editor-in-chief Sevinj Vagifgizi, and deputy director Mahammad Kekalov were charged with the same article following their arrests last week. 

Absalamova was detained on Thursday after being summoned to the Baku Police Department as part of the investigation into AbzasMedia’s alleged involvement in the smuggling of foreign currency into Azerbaijan.

Journalists gathered outside the police station on Thursday reported that the police escorted Absalamova out of the building, from where she was transferred to the Khatai Police Department. 

Absalamova being escorted out of the Baku Police Department. Source: Khayala Aghayeva.

Absalamova, who had previously been interrogated as a witness in the cases against her colleagues, was not accompanied by a lawyer at her detention.

[Read more on OC Media: Editorial | Ilham Aliyev’s attempt to eradicate the free press cannot succeed]

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The police detained several of AbzasMedia’s upper management and raided the outlet’s offices last week. 

During the raid, the police allegedly found €40,000 ($44,000) in AbzasMedia’s offices in Baku, which the outlet accuses the authorities of planting in order to falsify evidence against them.

AbzasMedia is known for its investigative reports, including on the Aliyev family’s business dealings, as well as alleged corruption in the reconstruction efforts undertaken in Nagorno-Karabakh since 2020.

The Azerbaijani authorities also detained and charged Kanal 13’s founder, Aziz Orujov, on charges of building a house without a permit, making Absalamova the fourth journalist to be detained in Azerbaijan in the last ten days.

Read in Georgian on On.ge.