Journalists Punished for Cooperating with Government Critic Meydan TV

Prosecutor General has not granted a complaint filed by Aytaj Ahmadov, a journalist collaborating with the government critic and independent online television Meydan TV, over her arrest by the Main Organized Crime Department (MOCD) on September 16 2015, illegal search and seizure of her computer, and her subjection to torture, inhuman and degrading treatment during her detention at MOCD. The Prosecutor General’s Office refused to launch a criminal case on the basis of Aytaj Ahmadova’s complaint, the journalist’s lawyer Zibeyda Sadigova said.

Founded in May 2013, Meydan TV is an internet-based television reporting on human rights abuses and government corruption. The TV channel is headquartered in Berlin, Germany, and cooperates with different journalists who are based in Baku. Aytaj Ahmadova also operates in Baku and produces video reports for Meydan TV. Aytaj Ahmadova is also under an unjustifiable travel ban, which prohibits her from leaving the country.

According to the lawyer, the decision on refusing to start the criminal case reads that the computer equipment confiscated from Aytaj Ahmadova is being scrutinized as part of the criminal case #152006048 against the officials of Meydan TV internet media channel, which is investigated by the Serious Crimes Investigation Department of Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic under Articles 192.2.2., 213.2.2., and 308.2 of Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic on the fact of causing significant damage to the state interests protected by law through illegal business activity which involved acquisition of large income and evasion of taxes through abuse of power.  

Zibeyda Sadigova, the lawyer defending the journalist’s rights, said that unless their complaint was satisfied, they would apply to the European Human Rights Court for protection of Aytaj Ahmadova’s rights.

The Prosecutor General’s Office has not recognized the violation of the journalist’s right not to be subjected to torture and right of liberty enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, when it was ought to do so. Besides, the journalist’s right to freedom of movement provided by the national Constitution and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms has been breached by the Prosecutor General’s Office. Under Paragraph III of Article 28 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan Republic, everyone legally being on the territory of the Azerbaijan Republic may travel without restrictions, choose the place of residence and travel abroad. According to Article 2 (1) of Protocol No.4 of the European Convention on Human Rights, everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence. Article 2 (2) of the Protocol says that, everyone shall be free to leave any country, including his own.

Moreover, Article 155 of the Criminal Procedure Code specifies the grounds for application of restrictive measures. Restrictive measures such as arrest, house arrest, restraining order and so on may be applied only to the person, who is either a suspect or an accused in a criminal case. However, despite of the fact that Aytaj Ahmadova is a witness in the criminal case launched against Meydan TV, an international travel ban has been imposed on her, which restricts the journalist’s activity.

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