The European Union expresses its deep concern over the detention of Mehman Aliyev, a prominent Azerbaijani journalist and Director of the news agency Turan on 24 August. Mr Aliyev has been detained initially for a period of three months on charges of "tax evasion”, "illegal entrepreneurship" and “abuse of authority”.
Turan is one of the few independent media voices in Azerbaijan. Mr Aliyev's detention was followed by a search of the Turan premises and its bank accounts were frozen, forcing Turan to announce the suspension of its work as of 1 September.
There has been a pattern of politically motivated detentions of journalists and human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, for instance, the decision taken by a Baku court on 12 May to block permanently five online media outlets, including online television platforms. Since April 2015 to this date, 29 media freedom restrictions in Azerbaijan have been registered on the Council of Europe platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists. The EU has expressed its concern regarding these alarming developments and the shrinking space for freedom of expression and for human rights defenders in Azerbaijan.
The EU calls upon Azerbaijan to ensure respect for its international commitments, notably as a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, including its Articles 5 and 10 on the right to liberty and the right to freedom of expression and information respectively. Respect for these commitments is an essential foundation to a democratic society.
The EU is following the case of Mehman Aliyev very closely. We call on Azerbaijan to cooperate closely with international structures, including the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in this regard, who called for immediate release of Mr Aliyev and to guarantee that the fundamental freedoms of Mehman Aliyev are not violated further.
The following countries Albania, Armania,Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Ukraine align themselves with this statement.