Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, issued the following statement today (29 August) on the arrest of Mehman Aliyev, director of the Azerbaijani news agency Turan:
I was very concerned to hear that Mehman Aliyev, director of the independent news agency Turan, has been arrested. The investigation being carried out against Aliyev for tax evasion, illegal business activities and abuse of office, as well as the blocking of Turan’s bank accounts, have forced the agency to cease its work from 1 September.
This makes the situation regarding freedom of the press in Azerbaijan an even greater cause for concern than before. I call on the Azerbaijani Government to uphold the commitments it has made regarding freedom of expression, freedom of the press and the rule of law.
I will continue to follow Mehman Aliyev’s case and the situation regarding freedom of the press in Azerbaijan closely.
Following his arrest on 24 August, Mehman Aliyev, director of the independent Azerbaijani news agency Turan, was remanded in custody for three months. He is accused of tax evasion, illegal business activities and abuse of office. Turan has been the only independent news agency in Azerbaijan for years. In Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, Azerbaijan is ranked 162 out of 180 countries.