Today (5 June) a preliminary court hearing on the lawsuit of “Azadlig Harakatchilari” Union, including the organization’s chairman Tahmasib Novruzov, against “Azadlig” Newspaper was supposed to be held under the chairmanship of Judge Elchin Gurbanov in the Yasamal District Court.
However the hearing was postponed on the basis of a motion put forth by “Azadlig” newspaper director Azer Ahmadov. Ahmedov asked the court to postpone the hearing for three weeks because the newspaper’s defense lawyer Elchin Sadigov is out of Baku.
The plaintiff’s lawyers Shamil Behbudov and Nazar Nazarov, and A. Ahmadov participated in the hearing.
The next hearing on this case is now scheduled for 1 July at 10:00 a.m.
Although the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety appealed to the court to get permission to photograph and film in the court, the judge said he will answer the appeal after he learns the position of both sides.
This lawsuit, signed by “Azadlig Harakatchilari” Union Chairman Tahmasib Novruzov, recalls the history of “Azadlig” Newspaper and claims that the paper’s current leadership is trying to divert the publication from its noble path. “After ‘Azerbaijan Popular Front Party’ (APFP) was created in 1995 on the basis of ‘Azerbaijan Popular Front’ (APF) movement, “Azadlig” newspaper – the property of APF has been functioning as the organ of the newspaper staff instead of an APFP organ. For moral damages caused to APF founders, the current leadership of the newspaper has to apologize through the press, the newspaper’s current staff has to be dismissed, and a 150, 000 AZN fine should be paid by the newspaper to “Istigal” Museum so a corner dedicated to the publication can be created there,” it is stated in the lawsuit. “No one gave anyone the right to turn “Azadlig” newspaper, which was founded by activists of the freedom movement, into the tribune of libelous heroes Ganimat Zahid, Mirza Sakit, and Agil Khalil, and separatists Ruslan Bashirli and Eynulla Fatullayev,” the lawsuit goes on.
“Azadlig” Newspaper director Azer Ahmadov considers the claim a political order given by the government. According to him, “Azadlig” Newspaper was created in 1989 as the organ of APF. In 1993 the editorial staff was also a founder. A few years after APF became a political party, it withdrew itself from the list of founders of the newspaper. After this editorial staff became the lone founder of the newspaper.
Azer Ahmadov considers the lawsuit absurd and the amount of the fine far-fetched. According to him, “Azadlig” newspaper has been fined in the amount of 300, 000 USD as a result of the illogical lawsuits put forth by officials and fulfilled by the courts. “The plaintiff Tahmasib Novruzov used insulting expressions in “Iflas” film, which was broadcast in “Lider” TV, about “Azadlig” newspaper staff and APFP leader Ali Karimli who is in opposition. He is one of the major megaphones of the government on black PR,” added Azer Ahmadov.