As the crackdown continues, Azerbaijani authorities arrested two more journalists on different charges.
“Abzas Media” journalist Elnara Gasimova was summoned to the Baku City Police Headquarter to testify for the second time. On the same day, her arrest was formally announced. On Monday she was brought to the court handcuffed from behind.
According to her lawyer Bahruz Bayramov, the court placed her for 2 months and 17 days in pre-trial detention. Like her other colleagues, Gasimova also has been accused of “smuggling foreign currency”.
The reporter denied the accusations. According to her, she has been arrested because of her journalistic activities.
After she was called to testify, Gasimova predicted her arrest and gave an interview to Meydan TV.
I think there is no other way for me… I think we need to continue somehow. Those in this system need to see that whatever they do, there are those who go to jail smiling like Nargiz [Absalamova], those who return to the country knowing they will be arrested like Sevinj [Vagifqizi].Elnara Gasimova
On Monday, the police detained another prominent journalist Shahin Rzayev. The court placed him in administrative detention for 15 days, accusing him of petty hooliganism and disobeying the police.
According to his family members, Rzayev was detained because of his Facebook posts.
It hasn’t been possible to find the specific post since many recent posts have been deleted.
What happened earlier?
The crackdown started on 20 November 2023 with the detention of Ulvi Hasanli, the head of Abzas Media. Since then, at least 10 journalists were detained, and the majority of them faced criminal charges which resulted in around 3-4 months of pre-trial detention.
In the middle of a media crackdown, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has ordered the presidential election to be held earlier than scheduled on 7 February.