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.