Azerbaijan launches criminal investigation against independent Meydan TV station


The Azerbaijani authorities are persecuting Meydan TV, one of the few independent media outlets in the country.

It is the Prosecutor’s Office for Serious Crimes that launched a criminal investigation into the Meydan TV case; it is still in progress, lawyer Elchin Sadigov, a representative of the channel, says. More than 15 contributors may be accused of illegal practice and profit-making in an especially large amount, large-scale tax evasion, abuse of power and other violations.

No one has been officially charged yet, but a number of journalists have been unlawfully barred from leaving the country.

In addition, some have had their homes searched, and their equipment has been confiscated without a warrant.

The authorities want to connect the station’s activity with the incydent that took place in Mingachavir, Azerbaijan’s fourth largest city, in August 2015. After 27-year-old Bakhruz Hajiyev, who was arrested for the use and distribution of drugs, died at a police station, mass protests evolved into riots. According to the police, Hajiyev committed suicide, but the detainee’s relatives claim that he was tortured before his death: a post-mortem photo allegedly shows bruises.

In September 2015,  Movsun Hajiyev, a journalist and dissident from Azerbaijan, told Belsat TV about the human rights situation in the country.

“In Azerbaijan, a person may be arrested for posts and even ‘likes’ on Facebook. Your Lukashenka is still a long way from such things,” the journalist said.

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