On 19 December, the Baku Court of Appeal upheld a ruling to block access to a number of independent news websites in Azerbaijan. The failed appeal had been brought by Radio Liberty’s Azerbaijani service, Azadlig (“Liberty”), and the unrelated Azadlig newspaper.
On 14 December, the trial of journalist Afgan Mukhtarli continued at the Balakan District Court. In May this year, Mukhtarli had mysteriously disappeared from Georgia, where he was living, and later resurfaced in Baku – under arrest. The journalist says he was abducted, tortured, and forcefully brought to Azerbaijan, with 10,000 Euro planted in his pockets.
A former policeman in Malta claims that he was fired from his job for investigating large payments made by powerful Azerbaijanis to prominent Maltese politicians.
Speaking to Tom Kingston of the Times of London, former investigator Jonathan Ferris says that he uncovered millions of euros in bribes funneled from Azerbaijan to Malta in return for kickbacks on gas deals. According to Ferris, this investigation of high-level corruption led to his termination from the financial crimes unit of the Maltese police.
On 20 November, lawyer Yalchin Imanov’s legal practice was suspended by a decision of Azerbaijan’s Bar Association, Imanov told Meydan TV. The Bar Association took the action in response to a complaint from the Penitentiary Service against Imanov, who is known for defending political activists.
On 10 August, Azerbaijan’s Bar Association received a complaint about Yalchin Imanov from Ogtay Mammadov, deputy chairman of the Penitentiary Service. In the complaint, the Penitentiary Service accused Imanov of circulating false information in the press. Specifically, the complaint refers to allegations of torture made against the Penitentiary Service by Imanov’s client Abbas Huseynov, deputy chairman of the Muslim Unity Movement. The Penitentiary Service denies the allegations.
Hasrat Rustamov, a physician and the first deputy chair of the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, has filed a lawsuit to get his job back. He was fired on 6 October because, he says, he had attended rallies held by the National Council of Democratic Forces.
A French court has rejected a lawsuit by Azerbaijan’s government against two French journalists it accuses of defamation in a case described by the defendants and media freedom activists as an attempt by the South Caucasus nation’s authorities to export censorship beyond the country’s borders.
The arrest of an Azerbaijani journalist in Ukraine marks a fresh instance of free-media-wary Azerbaijan having a critical reporter apprehended outside its borders.
Fikret Huseynli, who survived a beating and stabbing in his native Azerbaijan a decade ago, was arrested on October 14 at Boryspil International Airport in Kyiv as he was about to board a fight to Dusseldorf. He managed to alert his friends about his situation via Facebook before Ukrainian police took him into custody. A local court must still consider Azerbaijan’s extradition request, Ukrainian rights activists report.
Journalist Ilgar Valiyev, who currently lives outside Azerbaijan, says that he was tortured military servicemen.
The journalist says that the incident took place in March 2017. In a statement released on 4 October, Valiyev calls on the relevant agencies to conduct an investigation. Elchin Sadigov, the journalist’s defense lawyer, has circulated the full text of the statement.
Control of the Internet, “bugging” traffic and checking social networks is not news. The government in Azerbaijan has been doing this and doing it all the time. There is only one Internet provider in the country, through which communication with the outside world is carried out. In this situation, it’s very easy to control your people.
The government of Azerbaijan allocates its multi-billion dollar oil and gas revenue in four ways: 1) Bribery; 2) Theft by Pres. Aliyev’s family and his cronies; 3) Military purchases; and 4) Other budgetary matters. No wonder the majority of the people in Azerbaijan live in abject poverty, despite the billions of petrodollars earned by Aliyev’s autocracy.