12 Dec 2019 Lvl. 1
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Alert created on: 19 Jun 2019 n° 75/2019 Azerbaijan
Journalist Polad Aslanov Arrested, Jailed and Charged with High Treason
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On 14 June 2019, the Sabail district court in Baku ordered Polad Aslanov, chief editor of independent news websites Xeberman and Press-az, to remain in detention for four months pending an investigation on charges of high treason following his arrest on 12 June 2019, according to his lawyer, Elchin Sadygov. If found guilty, he could be jailed for life, in accordance with Article 274 of the Azerbaijani criminal code. Azerbaijani authorities had arrested Aslanov with his wife and daughter at a border crossing on 12 June, when he attempted to enter Iran to attend a friend's wedding, according to the regional news website Kavkazsky Uzel. The following day, the state security service had issued a statement accusing Aslanov of conspiring to sell secret information to foreign governments and publishing anti-government statements online. His wife and daughter were released after being briefly detained, and authorities had confiscated Aslanov's camera, computer and phone, according to Kavkazsky Uzel. Sadygov said Aslanov denied the charges and believed they were in retaliation for the his criticism of public officials and laws. Sadygov also said the journalist was preparing to publish an investigation into alleged corruption in the tourism sector involving high-ranking government officials before his arrest.
New 05 Aug 2020
On 5 August 2020, Polad Aslanov went on hunger strike to protest against the violation of his rights and what he believes to be a biased trial. He has been kept in detention for more than a year on treason charges, which he denies. He is believed to be detained in retaliation for his criticism of public officials and his investigation into alleged corruption in the State Security Service. The journalist’s health situation deteriorated severely with the hunger strike. Aslanov was transferred to Kurdakhani detention center on August 6 after being kept in the detention center of the State Security Service since 12 June 2019. The administration of Kurdakhani detention center denied him permission to meet with his wife. The latter said the journalist's trial resumed on 6 August after a two-month interruption.
04 Nov 2019
On 14 October 2019, the Baku Court of Appeal dismissed a complaint filed by Polad Aslanov against the extension of his detention period, which was prolonged for another 4 months on 5 October. Aslanov consequently went on hunger strike to protest this decision and the criminal prosecution as a whole. He stopped on 10 October due to a sharp deterioration in health.
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 release all those detained because of the views they expressed, notably journalists.
Journalists in detention