SWEDISH JOURNALISTS HELD IN MIGRATION OFFICE

April 18th, 2011
Three Swedish journalists observing the 17 April rally of Public Chamber – My Rohwedder Street, Charlotta Wijkström and Charlie Laprevote were detained by plain clothed persons. The journalists were first taken to the Sabail District Police Department # 39 and then to Anti-Illegal Immigration Department of the Interior Ministry's Passport Registration and Migration Office, Radio Liberty employee Khadija Ismayilova told IRFS today.

Khadija Ismayilova said that the Norwegian Embassy’s representative visited the Migration Department yesterday and appealed to relevant bodies regarding the situation of the journalists.
“These 3 persons are employees of Pampas Production Film Company and arrived in Azerbaijan to shoot a documentary film in Azerbaijan. This company has shot this kind of documentaries in several countries. Radio Liberty has submitted the relevant invitations for the journalists to the Azerbaijani Embassy to Sweden and it said that the journalists would visit Azerbaijan to shoot a documentary. In turn, the journalists presented their documents to the Embassy too. The Embassy granted visas for the journalists and sent the relevant documents to the Azerbaijan Foreign Ministry to accredit the journalists. The journalists arrived in Azerbaijan on Saturday and as the Foreign Ministry didn’t work on Saturday, they were unable to receive accreditation and on Sunday they were detained,” Ismayilova said.
Ismayilova noted that the journalists were not filming anything at the time of arrest and the undercover agents ignored the journalistic ID cards that the journalists showed them.            
“The Journalists were told yesterday that they would be sent back on a flight to Istanbul. But they this did not happen. At present, the journalists are held in a room in Migration Department”, Ismayilova added.
However, the monitoring group of the Azerbaijan Press Council stated that no incident with the mass media representatives at the rally scene of 17 April was registered, the Press Council website says. The monitoring group said that two non-accredited Swedish journalists were detained by the law-enforcement employees and taken to State Migration Office for the investigation of the issue.
An Azerbaijan Migration Center Public Union representative told IRFS that he met with Ali Mardanov, the head of Anti-Illegal Immigration Department of the Interior Ministry's Passport Registration and Migration Office: “I told the Department Head that I wanted to meet with the journalists. But I was told that it would not be possible. I told them that there is no grounds to deport visitors who have been provided with visas and it is not right to ban them from being involved in journalistic activities.”
Deputy Chief of Interior Ministry Press Service Ehsan Zahidov told IRFS that these persons have been taken to the State Migration Service.
The State Migration Service told IRFS that the journalists have not been taken to their office.            
It became clear on Monday evening that the Swedish journalist have been deported, State Migration Service Deputy Head Zarnishan Ahmadova told APA. She noted that the investigation was held on the Swedish journalists and the relevant decision was passed as a result of the investigation. The foreign journalists have been delivered to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Spokesman for the Ministry of Internal Affairs Orkhan Mansurzadeh told APA that according to Azerbaijan’s legislation, every journalist must be accredited in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to be engaged in the journalism in our country. During the investigations it was known that these journalists were not accredited in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That’s why basing the requirements of the legislation, they were deported from the country.