Journalist questioned over alleged extortion charges

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.   

internet connection down during political rally

Internet connections were reportedly down Saturday, October 19, 2019.

While no official explanation was provided for the reasons of poor connectivity, civil society activists say authorities cut off the internet connection on purpose to prevent political activists and participants of the opposition rally to share and report updates from the unsanctioned political rally organized in the capital of Baku on October 19.

The rally took place in multiple locations across downtown Baku, as a result, users reported connectivity problems throughout the day, across the center of Baku.

According to reports, in addition to mobile internet connection not working, some landlines and wifi connections across the downtown area were reportedly down.

Elesger Ahmedoglu, a media law expert, wrote on his Facebook, the situation was akin to an emergency. “Mobile operators and internet providers caused damage worth in millions by cutting off mobile internet for hours on end, both to the business owners and public. This is a serious violation of rights and anyone affected, must appeal to courts,” wrote law expert.