Imprisoned Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Sadigov, jailed on charges of aggravated assault, faces additional time in prison on yet unknown charges.
Caucasian Knot quoted Sadigov’s wife, as saying her husband called to inform her that new charges have been brought against him, although he did not yet know what he is being charged with.
‘We are shocked[…] They probably want to keep him in jail’, Sevinj Sadigova said. It’s only three months until Sadigov completes his term.
A court in Jalilabad District, where Sadigov worked, sentenced him to two and a half years in prison in January 2017. In November, the Supreme Court reduced his sentence to a year and a half.
Sadigov, the founder and editor of regional news-site Azel.tv, was detained in November 2016 charged with attacking a woman in August. He claimed the case was a politically motivated, and that he was being persecuted for his professional activities.
According to international rights group the Committee to Protect Journalists, Sadygov reported on allegations of corruption in the local administration for Azel, and managed the Facebook page Our Jalilabad, on which he often criticised local authorities.
Reporters Without Borders condemned Azerbaijani authorities for imprisoning Sadigov. They said that ‘obvious inconsistencies in the prosecution case were ignored’, and four prosecution witnesses were all employees of the local administration. A request to review CCTV footage was also rejected.
Azerbaijani authorities have faced criticism for cracking down on dissenting voices in both media and civil society. In their Freedom of the Press 2017 report, American rights group Freedom House wrote that media in the country is ‘not free’. It said that the government ‘maintained a tight grip over the country’s information landscape and continued to punish those who express criticism or dissent’.
Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was abducted in Georgia last May, was sentenced on 12 January to 6 years in prison, drawing international condemnation.