Yesterday, 28 July, Yeni Musavat newspaper reporter Elmin Bedelov and Milli Yol newspaper and pia.az website’s deputy editor Anar Garayli were subjected to physical harassment while they were preparing reportage about the rich in Mardakan and their photo camera belonging to Yeni Musavat newspaper’s editorial-office was damaged.
The Institute for Reporters` Freedom and Safety was told this by the journalists.
The injured journalists said that they wanted to take photos of the villas that were said to belong to Bine Trade Center director Kabira Mammadova. However, they were distracted by a luxurious house. After they took a photo of this luxurious house, a person who looked like a sportsman attempted to force them into a car. Then, 4 to 5 sportsmen came in a car and began to beat them. “They held my feet and slammed my head on the ground. Then, they took us into the house that we wanted to take a photo of, and began to beat us there,” said Elmin Bedelov.
“After they knew that we were journalists, they called someone with a phon and gave them. They took our mobile phones and switched them off. We were detained for three hours. Then they said that they would decide what to do with us after Ziya Mammadov`s brother-in-law came. One person, who introduced himself as the owner of the house, came and interrogated us and then returned our mobile phones. They said that we took pictures illegally, and we would be held responsible for any incident that happens there. They emphasized that they will keep an eye on us for 6 months and that they will tap our telephones. He told us to not complain about this issue,” said Anar Garayli. He added that their photos were deleted and their memory card was broken.
E.Bedelov told IRFS that Yeni Musavat management called the Ministry of Internal Affairs Service 102 and gave information regarding the incident to the press department head. An ambulance was called to the editorial office yesterday evening, where Bedelov was able to receive medical assistance for the first time. Both journalists received injuries to their face and body.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs Press Service head Ehsan Zahidov told IRFS that they had received verbal information regarding the incident. “However, it would be better if they appealed to the Khazar District Police Department as the injured persons,” said Zahidov. IRFS told Zahidov that a call was made to the 102 service. Zahidov's response was that the Ministry investigates all appeals received through 102 service and then legally evaluate them.
On 29 July, a group of representatives from mass media organs and human rights defense organizations visited the area where the incident took place. They were also subjected to harassment. A number of people who looked like sportsmen did not allow the journalists to take photos or film, and they threatened them. Several minutes later the leader of the group gave his phone to Yeni Musavat newspaper deputy editor-in-chief, Azer Aykhan and said that the owner of the house wanted to talk to him. The person introduced himself as Elchin, a businessman, tried to prove that the journalists were not beaten.