November 28, 2023

28.11.2023 – Azerbaijan arrests two journalists

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) strongly condemns the recent arrests of Ulvi Hasanli (Ülvi Həsənli), director and Sevinj Vagifgizi (Sevinc Vaqifqızı) editor-in-chief of the online publication Abzas Media ( Additional was arrested Hasanli’s assistant, Mahammad Kekalov (Məhəmməd Kekalovun).

Hasanli and Kekalov were detained on Monday 20 November 2023- Hasanli was stopped by the state authorities on the way to airport in Baku . Kekalov was taken from his home by individuals, and his whereabouts are still unknown. The authorities initiated a criminal case against Kekalov. Vagifgizi was detained on Tuesday 21 November 2023.

On Tuesday 21 November 2023 evening, a district court in Baku, Azerbaijan ordered Hasanli and Vagifgizi to remain in custody for four months on charges of unlawfully bringing money into the country, under Art. 206.3.2 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.. If convicted, they could face up to eight years in prison. Hasanli denies that 40000.00 EUR allegedly found in the Abzas newsroom belong to him or to the company.

SEEMO expresses deep concern over the circumstances surrounding their arrests and calls for the immediate release of Hasanli and Vagifgizi. The organization demands transparency from Azerbaijani authorities regarding Kekalov’s location.

The arrests are allegedly widely viewed as an attempt to stifle Abzas Media’s anti-corruption reporting.

SEEMO emphasizes the importance of press freedom and condemns any attempts to silence journalists and media organizations. SEEMO calls on international institutions to closely monitor the situation in Azerbaijan and demand the release of detained journalists.

South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a regional non-governmental, non-profit network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in Southeast, South, East and Central Europe. SEEMO members are in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova (with the territory of Transdnestria), Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Türkiye / Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Austria, Italy, Vatican and San Marino have a special status in SEEMO. SEEMO has over 3000 individual members, and additional media as corporate members.

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