A court in Baku ruled to block access to the YouTube channel of Kanal13 on December 20, 2023.
Kanal13’s director, Aziz Orucov, was detained in November 2023. A former political prisoner [he was sentenced to six years in 2017 but released on parole a year later], Orucov, was first detained on bogus property rights violations. The charges against Orucov were changed the following month. According to reports, the journalist was accused of smuggling.
On December 11, the court ordered the blocking of the outlet on the grounds the outlet spread false, insulting, defamatory, and discrediting information about state officials and others. The website of Kanal13 was blocked in 2017 during a wave of blocking that targeted several independent and opposition media outlets’ websites. They remain blocked at the time of documenting this blocking.
The decision to block
The Ministry of Internal Affairs first requested to block access from the Ministry of Digital Development and Transport on December 1 on the grounds the channel violated media law [namely for failing to register with the State Media Registry] as well as the dissemination of discrediting information. The Ministry took the request to court. According to reporting by Meydan TV, “the trial proceeded without the presence or representation of Orujov or any member of the media organization. The court upheld the claim, resulting in the blocking of the outlet.”
Orucov remains in pre-trial detention. He is facing up to eight years in prison if convicted.
On December 2, Rufat Muradli, a news anchor at Kanal13, was also reportedly detained and sent into administrative detention. In addition to his journalism work, Muradli serves as a board member of the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare (ADR) party – the party’s chairman, Gubad Ibadoglu, has been behind bars since August 2023.
For further reading on the implications of the controversial Law on Media and the imposed registry, click here.