FOREIGN JOURNALIST DETAINED BY POLICE IN AZERBAIJAN

March 9th, 2010
On 25 February Iceland Review’s photographer and deputy editor Páll Stefánsson was arrested by police in Sumqayit, Azerbaijan, according to Iceland Review newspaper.

Stefánsson said that after arriving in Azerbaijan he was followed while shooting photos for a book on the world’s most polluted places, and later was arrested by police. “I noticed that I caught attention in the industrial district. In the end I was taken to a police station and questioned for three hours. All of my papers were in order so they didn’t have anything on me. In the end they let me go,” he said.

On Tuesday Stefánsson was arrested again when he wanted to photograph some trees outside the hotel where he was staying. “Then suddenly nine armed men in three cars arrived […] and arrested me,” added Stefánsson.

Stefansson noted that he was allowed to call the civil service of the Icelandic Foreign Ministry and the Icelandic Embassy in Moscow immediately called back and asked to speak with the police officers.

“One of the men in the room received a phone call, which Stefánsson believes came from the Foreign Ministry in Azerbaijan. He assumes that either the Icelandic Foreign Ministry or the Icelandic Embassy in Moscow had contacted the police. Suddenly the questioning was over. Stefánsson’s passport was returned along with all of his equipment and films and he was driven back to the hotel without an explanation,” according to Iceland Reviews.

IRFS attempted to contact Sumgayit City Police Department and the Ministry of Internal Affairs Press Service. However, our calls went unanswered.