“The politicized government and law enforcement bodies have started a black PR campaign against ‘Azadlig’ newspaper and its employee Agil Khalil, who was stabbed,” “Azadlig” Newspaper Director Azer Ahmadov said during an emergency press conference that he conducted today in the press center of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety.

According to Ahmedov, yesterday, starting at 6 p.m. four investigators from the Chief Prosecutor’s Office interrorgated Agil Khalil and his parents in the Kurdemir Region Prosecutor’s Office for seven to eight hours, and attempted to blackmail the journalist. The investigators claimed they had evidence that for some time now Khalil has been in a homosexual relationship, and then showed a video where one male gives an interview in which he claims to have been in relationship with the journalist. The investigators then told Khalil that there are three ways to resolve this situation. According to Ahmedov, the first option is to claim that one of his colleagues from “Azadlig” Newspaper stabbed him, the second option is to clam that his male lover stabbed and the third option Ahmedov said that Khalil didn’t tell him. In the event that Khalil does not agree to one of these, the journalist was told that the interview with the alleged homosexual lover would be aired on national TV and Khalil be disgraced. It was then alleged that there was additional evidence from their relationship. The investigators produced a list of SMS messages that were supposedly exchanged between Khalil and his male partner. Ahmedov noted that these SMS messages are from two to three years ago, when Khalil was actually serving in the military. At that time the journalist didn’t even have a telephone.   

Ahmedov told participants of the press conference that as he spoke, Khalil was giving testimony in the Chief Prosecutor’s Department for the Investigation of Grave Crimes. He was brought to there from Kurdemir this morning. Khalil demanded his lawyer, but initially this demand was refused. Finally lawyer Elchin Sadigov was allowed to participate. “I wouldn’t be surprised if when Agil leaves there one of our employees or even I am arrested,” said Ahmedov. “These types of actions are to silence and shutdown ‘Azadlig’ before the elections. I call on the OSCE and the western countries with embassies in Azerbaijan to take decisive measures in connection with this. They must work, or we will be forced to stop out operations.”

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(Azeri) Press Conf. on Blackmailing of “Azadlig” reporter A. Khalil

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