Tural Sadigli is an Azerbaijani blogger and political activist living in exile. He is the managing editor of a YouTube channel, Azad Soz – Free Word. According to Sadigli, his life is in danger as per Facebook posts, Sadigli shared on May 29 and 31 respectively.
Attention. There is a four-man squad sent to kill me in Germany. Somehow the squad acquired my home address in Germany and have been watching the house for the last week. They have been caught on security cameras. They were sent during Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Brussels. They must have thought that I will travel to Brussels from London and visit my apartment in Germany on the way. And catch me then. [German] Police already know their identities and two of them were checked by the police. Investigations continue. It is possible that they have already left [Germany].
I assure you that my life is in danger. They are really on to me this time. The order has come from the Presidential Apparatus. This is why, my parents, who both live in Baku will be staging a protest outside of the Presidential Apparatus at 14.00pm. I ask political parties, rights defenders, activists, journalists and everyone else, to come to their support.
In an interview with Meydan TV, the political activist said, it was his work exposing the extent of government corruption and specifically that of the ruling family that is the reason behind the targeting. “There is yet a journalist, or blogger, who has visited the home of the president abroad, knocked on its door and showed the audience in Azerbaijan the properties bought on their money.” The blogger also told Meydan TV that he was warned numerous times not to talk about Mehriban Aliyeva [the wife, and first Vice President] and her team. “They even tried to buy my silence, promising a monthly salary, as long as I did not touch the president and his family,” Sadigli told Meydan TV.
This is not the first time Sadigli is threatened. Two years ago Sadigli was charged in absentia and authorities vowed to ask Interpol for his extradition. He was among a number of other activists targeted at the time.
In addition to physical threats, Azad Soz, the YouTube vlog managed by Sadigli has also been targeted. In February of this year, AzNet Watch assisted AzadSoz to restore access to several videos that were taken off from YouTube in the absence of any explanation, and likely as a result of fake “complaints.” All of the videos were about SOCAR – the state oil company, its former president Rovnaq Abdullayev and his cousin Anar Alizada. The videos explain how Azad Soz discovered in their investigations that Anar Alizade owned a fake Turkish passport by another name. At the time of takedowns, Sadigli, told AzNet Watch that the only notification that he received from YouTube was an email telling him he was subject to NetzDG Appeals and that in all likelihood, it was the state oil company and Anar Alizada behind these requests.
Similar removals took place on the channel’s Facebook page. In both cases, the videos were restored following the intervention of a third party on behalf of AzadSoz.
But the targeting did not stop there. According to Sadigli, the Facebook page was targeted again in April. “They [government sponsored trolls and actors] are studying old pictures, trying to identify violence that could be then reported by hundreds of fake accounts to Facebook as community guideline violations,” wrote the blogger on his Facebook on April 5.
Last month, in May, Azad Soz’s TikTok account was targeted as well. The account was shut down by the platform according to Sadigli. “You can shut them down, but we will open new ones. You won’t succeed at silencing Azad Soz [Free Word],” wrote Sadigli on Facebook. Previously AzadSoz was the target of inauthentic accounts on Facebook. The Guardian published this story explaining how Azad Soz’s Facebook account was flooded with over 1.5k comments over a post about two men sentenced to eight months. The Guardian investigation analyzed the top 300 comments and discovers that 294 out of 300 comments were inauthentic Facebook pages.
In 2018, Tural Sadigli, was among exiled political activists involved in a political campaign, called “Know Your Dictator.“