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Independent Azerbaijani journalist and lawyer arrested

12 September 2022
Avaz Zeynalli (left) and Elchin Sadigov (right) in 2017. Image: Sadigov's Facebook.

Independent journalist Avaz Zeynalli and Elchin Sadigov, a lawyer best known for representing political prisoners in the country, were arrested on 11 September on respective charges of accepting and facilitating bribery.

They are currently looking at eight to twelve years in prison.

The Azerbaijani General Prosecutor’s Office released a statement explaining that Avaz Zeynalli, editor-in-chief of Xural, an independent news outlet, was offered a bribe of ₼20,000 ($11,764) to favourably portray the imprisoned former chair of the Baku Steel Company, Rasim Mammadov.

According to the statement, Mammadov’s lawyer, Elchin Sadigov, was also arrested for facilitating the agreement with Zeynalli.

Mammadov, the former chair of the Baku Steel Company, has been in pre-trial detention since February 2022 on charges of corruption. In one of his hearings on  12 September Mammadov accused Zeynalli of attempting to blackmail him.

‘Today, he is doing the same thing to my family. Avaz is a criminal. He has demanded bribes from me for many years’, said Mammadov.

Prior to their arrests, an audio recording surfaced in local media, in which a voice alleged to be that of Zeynalli is heard accepting payment from an unknown party.


Sadigov’s wife, Zibeyda Zakariyya, who also represents Mammadov in court, claims that following the release of the recording, the Prosecutor General’s Office searched their house and acquired files pertaining to Mammadov’s ongoing trial.

Both Zeynalli and Sadigov deny the accusations, and have hinted that they were only charged as a result of their work as opposition figures.

Zeynalli had previously served time for accepting large bribes and tax evasion in 2013, but was released a year later in the 2014 presidential pardon. 

Sadigov is an independent lawyer best-known for advocating for the rights of political prisoners.

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