Hackers target prominent Azerbaijani feminist with pornography

11 March 2021
Narmin Shahmarzadeh at the International Women's Day march in Baku.

The Facebook account of Azerbaijani women’s rights activist Narmin Shahmarzadeh was hacked a day after the International Women's Day march in Baku, after which the account began publishing fabricated personal conversations and pornographic content.

Shahmarzadeh told OC Media that there were several attempts to hack her account several days before the march. 

‘I think they might have tried to delete the event as I was one of the organisers’, she said. 

She added that when she tried to request that Facebook to return control of her account to her and sent a copy of her government ID to authenticate her identity, Facebook replied that her ID was already used by the hackers to change her name.

She said she believes that the Azerbaijani government is responsible for the hack. 

‘My debit card from (state-owned) Kapital Bank was also being used to promote posts on Facebook’, Shahmarzadeh said. ‘I managed to block the fraud’

She is preparing to submit a complaint to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s office to request a criminal investigation. She has threatened legal action against any person or official body that acts to impede the investigation. 

While the pornographic posts on Facebook were flagged and removed and the account since suspended, hackers have also created a channel on Telegram where the pornographic content is also disseminated. The channel's creators have claimed that the images are of Shahmarzadeh, as of 11 March, it has more than 1,600 subscribers and 9,000 views.


Comments published by the hackers on her Facebook profile reveal that Shahmarzadeh was also being targeted for a post she wrote back in 2019, criticising the posthumous granting the title of Hero of Azerbaijan to Mubariz Ibrahimov. The 22-year-old soldier was killed in action during fighting near the Nagorno-Karabakh line-of-contact in 2010. 

A Facebook comment on Shahmarzadeh's Facebook page: ‘As the video was deleted by fb, you can watch it on xnxx [a pornographic website] soon, we will cut off the tongue of those who dare to encroach on our martyr.’
‘As the video was deleted by fb, you can watch it on xnxx [a pornographic website]  soon, we will cut off the tongue of those who dare to encroach on our martyr.’

In 2019, Narmin Shahmarzadeh was criminally charged and convicted for the comments she made about Ibrahimov. She was sentenced to 400 hours of community service by The Khatai District Court.

Shahmarzadeh has not been the only prominent feminist targetted by hackers. 

Several weeks ago, well-known feminist activist Gulnara Mehdiyeva revealed that her Facebook profile was hacked a year ago, three days after a march on International Women’s Day was broken up by police.

Some conservative pages were distributing private voice messages sent by Mehdiyeva detailing her distress over an abusive relationship. Mehdiyeva told OC Media that she suspected the police were responsible.