Authorities arrest blogger despite lack of evidence [Update March 1, 2024]

[Update] Mammadli may face a possible eight-year sentence, according to the hearing, which took place on February 29. During the hearing, lawyer Fariz Namazli said his defendant is being charged with the crimes without evidence proving Mammadli indeed committed fraud, hooliganism, and extortion. 

August 24, 2023 – Blogger Jamil Mammadli is facing multiple charges, including fraud, hooliganism, and extortion, and has been placed in administrative detention pending investigation, according to reports by local media.

The allegations leveled against the blogger claim that Mammadli allegedly influenced the participants of the trial and spread insulting posts about them on social networks. 

As such, according to the blogger’s lawyer, Fariz Namazli, the state prosecutor and the plaintiffs claim Mammadli allegedly obstructed the “legality” of the trial. Yet, after reviewing Mammadli’s social media posts, the blogger’s defense has concluded that the blogger’s posts were irrelevant to the trial. Moreover, the State Prosecutor failed to provide substantial evidence proving that the blogger was involved in any influence over the trial participants. 

Lawyer Namazli views the case as an attempt to restrict the blogger’s freedom of expression.

Mammadli was sentenced to one and a half years of community service in March 2022. At the time, the lawsuit was based on videos on Mammadli’s YouTube channel in which Mammadli claimed the executive branch was embezzling funds from persons receiving welfare payments. 

Facebook user questioned over a Facebook status post

Seymur Aghayev, a student, said police unlawfully took him to a police station where he was held for some two hours on September 27. The men who first asked Aghayev to confirm his identity were ununiformed explained Aghayev following his release. When Aghayev asked the reason for this inquiry his questions remained unanswered. The men put him in a car against his will and took him to the Baku Police Station. 

“I was standing outside a grocery store when two men approached me, asking if I was Seymur. I told them that was my name. They were plainclothed and only later at the police station did I learn that the two men were the officers at Criminal Search department at the Baku City Police Station. They left my questions unanswered as we drove [to the police station],” Aghayev wrote the following day on his Facebook profile.

At the station, Aghayev was told the reason he was brought in was a Facebook status Aghayev shared about police violence against citizens. 

In an interview with Toplum TV, Aghayev said, the status was referring to an old video of police using physical violence against a citizen. At the station, following the questioning (police officers also asked about his family members, their employment history, and any religious affiliation) Aghayev was forced to remove his Facebook status. 

In its response to media inquiries, the Ministry of the Interior said there was nothing unlawful in Aghayev’s visit to the police. “He was questioned upon an invite. This is not unlawful,” said the Ministry’s media spokesperson in an interview with Meydan TV.