On February 11, a suspended sentence against Aziz Orucov, editor of an online news platform, was dropped by the Baku Court of Appeal.
Orucov was arrested during the criminal investigations against non-governmental organizations in Azerbaijan. He was arrested in 2017, but released in 2018 on a suspended sentence. The sentence was until February 2021.
Orucov took over the managing of the platform after his brother Anar Orucov fled the country in 2014 amid threats of persecution.
Aziz Orucov was detained by the police and sentenced to 30days of administrative detention on charges of resisting police. When Orucov’s administrative detention sentence was to conclude he was sentenced to an additional four months in pretrial detention on new charges “illegal entrepreneurship” and “abuse of power”. These charges are commonly used in cases of political prisoners and have been widely used during the crackdown that began in 2013 against representatives of civil society in Azerbaijan.
In 2014, Kanal 13 was subject to government launched investigation that was targeting all independent, international and opposition civil society organizations, including organizations as IREX and Kanal 13. At the time, the manager and founder of the channel Anar Orucov (brother of Aziz Orucov) was in charge of the office and the channel.
As part of the country-wide crackdown, Kanal 13 office was searched, documents confiscated. Fearing persecution, Anar Orucov fled the country with his family with the support of an international organization while Aziz Orucov stayed behind to continue managing the channel and the projects.
Kanal 13 has also been subject to online attacks. In March of 2017, a report released by Amnesty International, “False Friends- how fake accounts and crude malware targeted dissidents in Azerbaijan” detailed how Kanal 13 was among those targeted when its internal communications were accessed for over a week.
Two months later, the channel’s director Aziz Orucov was detained and later rearrested while the office of the channel was searched and equipment was confiscated.