Since the Azerbaijani government began its campaign of intimidation on 20 November 2023, at least 13 journalists have been arrested, 11 of whom are still behind bars.
The hunt for journalists from the few remaining independent media operating in Azerbaijan continues.
“Everything seems to indicate that this was yet another attempt to murder Mahammad Mirzali … A hit squad was sent from abroad to target a blogger who was given political asylum in France because of his criticism of Ilham Aliyev. This case must be addressed at the highest state level.” – RSF
On 8 May, freelance journalist Ayten Mammadova was threatened by a knife-wielding man in the elevator of her apartment block. The man demanded that she stop writing about a trial she was covering, and warned that if she didn’t he would ‘deal’ with her daughter.
Zaur Gambarov was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on 28 February over an altercation at a branch of the social security department, where he had gone on 4 May 2020 to investigate a complaint.
Geybulla has been unjustly accused of betraying her country for taking a measured and journalistic stance in the face of the recent armed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In June 2019 Aslanov, his wife and daughter were detained at a border crossing as they attempted to enter Iran for a friend’s wedding. Although his wife and daughter were later released, Aslanov was charged with high treason for allegedly selling state secrets to Iran.
Press groups call on both states to abide by their obligations under International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law to protect journalists in situations of conflict and tension.
The recently amended martial law prohibits the publication of reports criticising the actions of the government, officials and local bodies. It also gives increased power to the police to hand out fines, freeze assets and request removal of content from media outlets.
“Doctors, nurses and facts are lifesavers”: Three women journalists on press freedom during COVID-19
Exiled journalists from Azerbaijan, Bahrain and Yemen speak to ICORN about the challenges of reporting the truth when governments are using the pandemic to justify surveillance and impose harder restrictions on the press.
IRFS calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to end their crackdown on critics under the guise of protecting public safety, and for approximately 120 political prisoners to be released in order to protect their health.
In May 2017, Mukhtarli was abducted in Georgia and transported to Azerbaijan, where he was sentenced to six years in prison on dubious charges in 2018. A judge ordered his early release on 17 March 2020.
At least 18 journalists were obstructed and/or physically attacked in the course of their reporting in Baku after Azerbaijan’s snap parliamentary elections on 9 February. Khadija Ismayilova was one of those who were beaten and arrested.
HRW’s 2020 report on Azerbaijan: Critics prosecuted, lawyers harassed, protests restricted, LGBTQI+ persecuted
In 2019, over 50 imprisoned human rights defenders, journalists, opposition activists and religious believers were released, but at least 30 others remained wrongfully imprisoned, while authorities regularly targeted other dissenting voices.