On February 15 the Nasimi District Court, presided over by Judge Shahin Abdullayev, extended the pretrial detention of Nijat Aliyev, chief editor of azadxeber.org news website, editor’s layer Anar Gasimli told the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS). According to the lawyer, the extension of period of judicial probe is related to news charges filed against Aliyev.
Background: Nijat Aliyev was detained on May 20, 2012, and charged under Article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (illegal manufacturing, purchase, storage, transportation, transfer or selling of narcotics/psychotropic substances). On January 26, 2013 Aliyev faced new charges under three Articles of the Criminal Code: 188.8.131.52 (import, sale and distribution of religious literature, religious items and other informational materials of religious nature with the aim of reproduction, sale and distribution without appropriate authorization), 281.2 (making appeals to violent capture of authority, violent deduction of authority or violent change of constitutional grounds or infringement of territorial integrity of the Azerbaijan Republic, as well as distribution of materials of such contents) and 283.2.3 (incitement of national, racial or religious hostility, humiliation of national honor, as well as discrimination of citizens based on their national, racial or religious background committed publicly or with use of mass media).
Many international and local human rights groups believe that Nijat Aliyev was arrested for criticizing issues related to the Eurovision Song Contest, including the government’s high expenditures for the event and LGBT issues in connection with the contest, and questioned the need for the contest to be held in Azerbaijan.