02 Nov 2017 Lvl. 1
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Alert created on: 21 Aug 2017 Azerbaijan

Criminal Case Opened against Turan Independent News Agency in Azerbaijan

Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner Article 19 CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
No state reply yet
Partner Article 19 CPJ EFJ/IFJ Index RSF
On 7 August 2017, Azerbaijan's tax authorities opened a criminal investigation against Turan, an independent news agency. Turan is accused of under-declaring profits since 2014 and faces a fine of over 37,000 manat (18,000 euros) in back taxes and other charges. The agency denies the allegations and has referred the matter to a Baku economic administrative court. They believe the proceedings are part of a government-orchestrated campaign to limit the organisation's critical reporting. They have faced similar allegations in the past, and an audit conducted previously demonstrated that they were complying with their tax obligations.

Although Turan agreed to cooperate with the authorities and to provide them with the requested financial documentation, Turan’s office was raided by tax officers on 16 August. The following day, the authorities announced that they had extended period covered by their investigation and requested the agency's financial records since 2010.

Turan is considered by many media freedom organisations as one of the last remaining independent media outlets in Azerbaijan.
Updates
02 Nov 2017
On 2 Novembre 2017, the criminal case against Turan news agency was closed and charges against Mehman Aliyev dropped.
11 Sep 2017
On 11 September 2017 Mehman Aliyev was released from pre-trial detention and placed under house arrest.
30 Aug 2017
On 30 August 2017, the Baku Court of Appeal confirmed Mehman Aliyev's pre-trial detention.
25 Aug 2017
On 25 August 2017 Mehman Aliyev was sentenced to a three-month pre-trial detention.Turan news agency has announced that it will suspend its operations starting from September 1 as a result of Aliyev`s arrest and the agency`s bank accounts being frozen.
24 Aug 2017
On 24 August 2017, Mehman Aliyev, director of Turan news agency, was detained by the authorities as a suspect in a tax-evasion and abuse of power investigation.
Follow-ups
13 Sep 2017
PACE monitors react to release of Mehman Aliyev in Azerbaijan.
11 Sep 2017
Statement by the Spokesperson of the Secretary General on the release of Mehman Aliyev
11 Sep 2017
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media welcomes release of Azerbaijani journalist Mehman Aliyev, calls for all charges to be dropped.
11 Sep 2017
Volodymyr Ariev, PACE General Rapporteur on Media Freedom and the Safety of Journalists, welcomes the release of the Director of Turan agency Mehman Aliyev.
31 Aug 2017
CoE Commissioner for Human Rights dismayed at last blow to media freedom in Azerbaijan: Turan news agency Director Mehman Aliyev detained and announced suspension of agency operations.
25 Aug 2017
CoE Secretary General calls on the authorities in Azerbaijan to respect the spirit of the country’s cooperation with the Council of Europe and to fully abide by its commitments under the European Convention on Human Rights in order to avoid yet another case of unjust deprivation of liberty which has no place in a democratic society.
25 Aug 2017
PACE co-rapporteur on Azerbaijan (Sub-Committee on Conflicts between Council of Europe Member States) calls for the immediate release of Mehman Aliyev.
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