12 Dec 2019 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 22 Apr 2016 n° 52/2016 Azerbaijan

Criminal Investigation Launched against Azerbaijani Online Media Outlet Meydan TV

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner Index Article 19 AEJ EFJ/IFJ
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Partner Index Article 19 AEJ EFJ/IFJ
On 20 April 2016, Meydan-TV announced that the General Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan initiated a criminal investigation against it. Meydan TV, an Azerbaijani online media outlet which is based in Berlin but has contributors working inside Azerbaijan, is well known for its journalistic investigations into the involvement of the government in corruption as well as coverage of press freedom and human rights abuses. During Azerbaijan's crackdown on the media in 2014, Meydan TV closed its Baku newsroom.

A lawyer for Meydan TV, Elchin Sadigov, said the outlet is facing charges of large-scale tax evasion, profit making in an especially large amount, and abuse of power resulting in falsification of elections and/or referendum results.

The following day, on 21 April 2016, 15 individuals were named by the Prosecutor Office in the criminal case, said the outlet's lawyer Elchin Sadigov. According to Meydan TV no journalists have yet been officially charged. Meydan TV has reported that some of the journalists' homes were searched and some are facing travel restrictions, preventing them from leaving the country. Over the past several months, the Prosecutor’s Office has repeatedly summoned contributors to Meydan TV for questioning, and several have been subjected to tax audits, face travel bans or have had criminal cases brought against them.
Follow-ups
12 Dec 2019
In her report following her visit to Azerbaijan from 8 to 12 July 2019, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights regrets that no progress has been made regarding the protection of freedom of expression and calls on the authorities to bring the legislation and practice affecting Internet freedom in line with European standards.
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