For almost a month now, political activist, Bakhtiyar Hajiyev has been the target of multiple forms of online attacks. In an interview with AIW, Hajiyev said, from being impersonated online and fake social media accounts in his name, calling for protests, to on-going attempts to break into his social media accounts, it is a comprehensive list, the attacks are well-coordinated and they originate from the law enforcement agency.
Hajiyev explains that he can get, at least ten passwords reset requests a day for messaging services like Whatsapp, his social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as well as applications like Paypal and Uber. “I have been getting password reset requests on platforms and accounts I never visited before or never set up. And in addition to all the social media accounts, there is the e-government portals that too inform me, of password reset requests.”
In one screenshot Hajiyev shared with AIW, there is evidence of countless incoming missed calls from numbers registered to the US and UK. These happen during certain hours of the day explains Hajiyev. Similar phone calls have been reported by other political activists too.
“I also receive calls from people who have been humiliated and called names online and then given my mobile number by the perpetrators, telling them to call me, since it is my doing. So I end up explaining to people that it was not me and that I would never do anything like this to anyone,” explained Hajiyev.
The offensive language is also being used against government officials and the ruling family explains Hajiyev.
Hajiyev believes it is his activism and outspokenness online that triggers these attacks. Whenever he has posted something that is clear evidence of an act of corruption, or a cover-up of government dealings, has been subject to similar forms of attacks and harassment. Taking into account, that it is not just him, but many other activists who are facing similar attacks, the intensity and the wide range of the attacks are indicative that they are coordinated and originate from one source – the law enforcement.
“These things are being done, in order to avoid any sort of political mobilizing once the quarantine period is over,” Hajiyev told Azadliq Radio in an interview on May 24.
“I have informed the State Security Service about these attacks and I have shared all the necessary information. And although I have been promised an investigation and answers, I am yet to see anything,” Hajiyev told to AIW. Hajiyev also told AIW that his name appears in message exchange among police officers [whoever has access to these numbers, must be affiliated with the authorities because these are personal numbers of police explains Hajiyev] attempting to incriminate Hajiyev.
Most recently, Hajiyev was harassed in a post written by the ruling party’s youth branch.
AIW continues to document this and other digital attacks and threats against representatives of Azerbaijan Civil Society.