social media users questioned over coronavirus posts (updated)

16:15

April 11, activist Nariman Abdulla sentenced to ten days in administrative detention on the grounds of violating the anti-epidemic, sanitary-hygienic and quarantine regime according to Azadliq Radio. Abdulla was taken by the police, from his house on April 10 in the city of Lankaran. His family members claim his detention is the result of his posts and comments on social media. Abdulla criticized the Minister of Labor and Social Protection over a lack of assistance for the poor families during the quarantine regime.

April 6, political activist Shakir Mammadov questioned over Facebook post then arrested on charges of hooliganism and sentenced to 15 days in administrative detention according to AzadliqRadio report.

Mammadov described his arrest as unlawful. Mammadov said he had informed local police he was going to the pharmacy after having texted a specified number. As soon as he left the apartment, he was apprehended by the local police in the city of Sumgayit and taken to the police station.

There he was asked to remove a Facebook post, where he wrote that during quarantine, people are unable to work, and therefore, have trouble providing for their families. Therefore the authorities should help. When he refused to remove the status, police charged him with hooliganism (according to police protocol Mammadov was stopped on the street for swearing. When the police approached him, they asked him why he was outside without a protective mask and gloves. When Mammadov disobeyed their questions, he was arrested).

April 4, journalist, Tezekhan Mirelemli was questioned over a Facebook post according to local media reports.


Translation: “Friends, today, I was called with an official letter to the Baku City Main Police Department. They wanted to speak with me about a Facebook status I shared after an incident that occurred near Hazi Aslanov metro stop. I gave my explanation and was let go. I would like to say, there was no violence used against me. Some friends, have shared news that I was beaten. I am telling you it is not true. As for the Facebook status – I deleted it. I knew it would be misinterpreted. I wanted to delete the status as soon as I shared it. I did not delete it in the evening because there was some troll activity. I would like to say I had no intention when sharing that Facebook status. I shared it because I wanted to prevent cases of abuse from happening again. I then deleted it because I did not want it to be misunderstood.”

The journalist’s post was about a police officer, according to Azadliq Radio reports but no further details are given.

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March 25, police in Azerbaijan, closely monitor discussions on the popular social media platform, Facebook. Some users reportedly are invited for questioning.

The national parliament adopted changes to the law on Information, Informatisation, and Protection of Information, ten days ago, and already, several social media users have been questioned by the police over their posts.

Local authorities are relying on the new article “Violating sanitary hygiene, quarantine and pandemic regimes” when questioning social media users.

On March 21, AIW reported of Ilgar Atayev, who was called in for questioning and charged with article 388.1 of the code of administrative offenses – sharing of prohibited information on the Internet or internet – telecommunication networks. Authorities claim, Atayev, shared information on COVID without quoting official sources and that the information provided was false.

Since then, at least two more cases have been reported.

In another case, Anar Malikov, an opposition activist,  was sentenced to ten days of administrative detention for violating the pandemic regime on March 21. The court decision said Malikov violated the quarantine regime with his social media posts. No such legal liability is specified in Article 211 of the Code of Administrative Offenses.

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