Last week, Azerbaijani authorities raided the offices of AbzasMedia, an independent news outlet covering corruption in the country. They arrested four of its employees, including its director, Ulvi Hasanli, and editor-in-chief, Sevinj Vagifgizi, on charges of smuggling foreign currency into the country.
They denied the charges and accused the government of falsifying evidence against them by planting €40,000 ($44,000) in their offices to disrupt their work.
On Tuesday, the police also arrested Aziz Orujov, the founder of Kanal 13, an independent online TV, for allegedly illegally constructing a house.
These arrests have led many in Azerbaijan to fear that a wave of repression is beginning, similar to other such periods of pressure against journalists, activists, and politicians in Azerbaijan.
This week, Islam Shikhali talks about working as a journalist in Azerbaijan in light of the crackdown on AbzasMedia, Anar Mammadli, the head of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center, talks about his own arrest in a previous crackdown on civil society a decade ago, and Bahruz Samadov, a PhD candidate at Charles University, talks about how Azerbaijan’s relationship with the West influenced its authoritarian crackdown on AbzasMedia.
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- Azerbaijan arrests founder of Kanal 13 a week after AbzasMedia raid