Azerbaijan news

The arrest of Ulvi Hasanli and office raids at ‘AbzasMedia’: a blow to press freedom in Azerbaijan

Police officers assembled outside the AbzasMedia office and initiated a search within the editorial department of the media establishment. Staff members shared these events on social media, indicating the removal of journalists from the area.

Video footage released by AbzasMedia revealed police obstructing journalists from filming, forcibly removing them from the building housing the editorial office. This interference hindered the journalists’ professional activities.

Ulvi Hasanli, the director of AbzasMedia, has been untraceable since the morning of November 20. Later updates confirmed his presence at the Baku City Police Department. Zibeyda Sadygova, Hasanli’s lawyer, expressed concerns over the lack of information about his detention and vowed to investigate further.

Amid the office search, Sadygova disclosed the alleged discovery of 40,000 euros by the police during the five-hour operation. However, AbzasMedia promptly refuted this claim, asserting that the funds did not belong to them and were fabricated to impede their activities and incriminate Hasanli.

Efforts to obtain details from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) regarding Hasanli’s detention by Meydan TV yielded no response.

AbzasMedia gained recent recognition for its investigative reports, particularly focusing on the President’s family business, officials connected to the President, ongoing construction activities in Karabakh, and related companies.

In response to these developments, the Defender Legal Center issued a statement denouncing the actions against Ulvi Hasanli and AbzasMedia as harassment, alleging violations against the right to freedom of expression, especially within the independent media landscape.

The Center criticized the Azerbaijani government’s actions, citing contradictions with established constitutional and international human rights obligations. They urged the government to cease politically motivated persecutions against Hasanli and AbzasMedia.

Efforts to clarify the reasons behind Hasanli’s detention from the Ministry of Internal Affairs remained unsuccessful. The ongoing situation raises concerns about press freedom and safety within investigative journalism in Azerbaijan.

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