Volodymyr Ariev (Ukraine, EPP/CD), General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Media Freedom and the Safety of Journalists, today expressed concern regarding the detention of the Director of Turan agency (Azerbaijan) Mehman Aliyev. According to Turan agency, Mr Aliyev is detained in the Yasamal district police department, where he was taken from the Investigation Department of the Ministry of Taxes in the context of a criminal investigation for under-declaring profits.
“I call on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately release Mehman Aliyev and abstain from using criminal code to investigate the case. Turan has already faced similar allegations in the past, and an audit conducted previously demonstrated that the agency was complying with its tax obligations. The Azerbaijani authorities must avoid any acts potentially having chilling effect on the freedom of the press in this country,” Mr Ariev said.
Turan is considered by many media freedom organisations as one of the last remaining independent media outlets in Azerbaijan. The agency denies the allegations of tax evasion and believes the proceedings are part of a government-orchestrated campaign to limit the organisation's critical reporting.
This case is being monitored by the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists. No reply has been received yet from the Azerbaijani authorities.