On March 11, the Baku Court on Grave Crimes held a hearing in the case of journalist Parviz Hashimli and Tavakkul Gurbanov who is charged as accomplice in what the National Security Ministry, or MTN, claims to be “smuggling” by “organized group”.
In the course of the hearing, Hashimli’s lawyers filed a motion for the return of the memory card seized by MTN officers during the search in Hashimli’s house. The judge said the motion would be considered after the documents were announced.
Then journalist Hashimli gave testimony. He did not plead guilty to the charges and said that his statement was written by the investigator of the Ministry of National Security.
“MTN people began to spy me before my arrest. A day before my detention, I had informed the U.S. Embassy of the threat of arrest. At the same time, on the same day I wrote a letter to the head of the Presidential Administration, Ramiz Mehdiyev informing of the wrong information given about me. The head of the MTN claims that I took money from MP Javid Gurbanov and Ali Nagiyev, brother of Vali Nagiyev, his former deputy who now leads the Department to Combat Corruption, in order to give to the opposition. But I did not give money to anyone,” said the journalist.
The journalist also noted that he was threatened with torture at MTN.
“While being detained at MTN, I was taken to a place, where instruments of torture were stored. There they spoke about these instruments in order to pressure me. Ilgar Aliyev, who worked at MTN at that time, threatened that if I refuse to write what they wanted I would get raped by the men who conducted the search in my house,” the journalist said.
Hashimli added that he was acquainted with Tavakkul Gurbanov through a man, Ilgar by name, in Ganja, and Gurbanov told him that his son studying at the State Economics University had exam failures.
“I suggested preparing a story about what was going on at the university where his son was studying and making it public. On the day of my arrest, Tavakkul once again called me and asked how we could meet. I invited him to our office. If he was bringing any weapons, why should I meet him at an office where 8-9 journalists were working? Also, it was Tavakkul who called me every time. I never made him a call and there was no mention of a weapon in any of our phone conversations,” the journalist added.
The court process will continue on March 13, at 10.30 am.
Background: Bizim Yol newspaper journalist and moderator.az editor-in-chief Parviz Hashimli was detained on September 17, by employees of the Ministry of National Security, or MTN. On September 18, the journalist was handed down a two-month pretrial detention sentence by the Sabail District Court under two articles of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code: Article 206.3.2 (smuggling of firearms on preliminary arrangement by an organized group) and 228.2.1 (illegal purchase, transfer, selling, storage, transportation and carrying of firearms, their accessories, supplies and explosives by an organized group). His detention term was extended for another three months on November 7.