According to online news platform monitoring human rights developments in Azerbaijan, Gozetci, a journalist with the state news agency Azertac, Aygun Aliyeva was dismissed from her job after Facebook posts. Aliyeva’s attempt to take her case to court proved futile. The court ruled in favor of the news agency four days ago.
Aliyeva told an independent Turan news agency that her issues with the agency began in December 2019, when Azerbaijan held its municipal elections. At the time, Aliyeva wrote a Facebook post, that was critical of the municipalities. “Why would I vote when a municipality cannot even put a rubbish bin?” wrote Aliyeva. She was made to write a statement after this post. Then, in August 2020, she was fired following an alleged note sent to the State news agency from the Presidential Apparatus.
When Aliyeva decided to take her case to Nasimi District Court, the judge ruled against the journalist. “During the hearing, I was told, I have been writing critical of the government Facebook posts,” Aliyeva told Turan news agency in an interview. The journalist plans to appeal the decision.
Meanwhile, Azertac management refuted Aliyeva’s claims that she was fired over Facebook posts, instead, the agency said she was unprofessional, submitted her work late, and despite warnings and even a fine, did not change her work ethics. Facebook posts had nothing to do with it, said the state news agency deputy chairman of the board.
Aliyeva spent twenty-one years at the agency.
December 14, freelance journalist Nurlan Gahramanli (Libre) reported being questioned at the Baku City Main Police Department over alleged extortion charges. But Gahramanli refutes the claims and believes, the reason for his persecution is his live coverage of Victory Day protests on December 10 that he did over Facebook.
“A police officer named Fuad Babayev invited me to the bureau. He told me that I have allegedly blackmailed a man named Tabriz Ahliyarli via ‘Orange Media’ Instagram account in November [the account previously managed by Gahramanli, but which he no longer has access to according to Gahramanli himself]. I told him, I never heard of the name,” the journalist told Meydan TV. Gahramanli does not rule out that the allegation of blackmail and extortion is the work of the Organized Crime department that detained and questioned Gahramanli on October 30. During his detention, his phone was confiscated and the department had access to it. Gahramanli believes it is possible that the department employees established contact with Tabriz Ahliyarli using Gahramanli’s ‘Orange Media’ Instagram account to later blackmail Gahramanli and use it as proof that indeed he has made contact with the alleged victim.
“During the questioning by Fuad Babayev, I was threatened with a criminal case and imprisonment,” Gahramanli told Meydan TV.
The journalist publicized his visit to the Organized Crime Unit via various online news platforms. The following day the Ministry of the Interior called him and told him his phone was under surveillance and that if I continue my journalist work, persecution will continue and that I will be arrested.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of the Interior has refuted Gahramanli’s claim that he was beaten during his detention at the Organized Crime Unit. Instead, the ministry said in an official statement that Gahramanli received a warning from the relevant authorities, following a series of complaints by “many citizens” who have informed the Ministry of the Interior, Gahramanli made contacts and befriended Armenians on social platforms, liked and shared their public posts critical of Azerbaijan. “Nurlan Gahramanli was invited to the police following these appeals and after getting his statement, he was given a warning and released. Gahramanli’s claims that he is being prosecuted by the authorities are baseless,” said the statement.