On April 13, Zahir Amanov, editor of an online news site cenub.az was detained according to Azadliq Radio, Azerbaijan language service for Radio Liberty.
Amanov, 70, is also the founder of the said website which covers regional news in southern Azerbaijan.
According to reporting by Turan News Agency, Amanov was detained on charges of extortion by threat however, colleagues say the accusations are bogus and are related to his work exposing the extent of local and regional corruption at a government level. The case involves Israfil Aliyev, the head of a local administrative office in the village of Sygdash, Masalli region who claimed Amanov blackmailed him. “We have known Zair Amanov for 30 years, as the head of one of Azerbaijan’s leading regional media outlets and an experienced journalist. Therefore, the accusation of extorting money and arresting him red-handed seems implausible. We have no doubt that the case has been fabricated and we will follow up on it,” said Arif Aliyev, director of the Baku Press Club in an interview with Turan.
If convicted, Amanov is facing up to five years in jail.
According to the latest updates, Amanov was released on April 15 while investigations into extortion continue.