Founder and chief editor of regional news site “Cenub.az” Zahir Amanov was detained in Masalli district (236 km south of Baku) on 13 April.
Amanov was detained in the editorial office, local sources said. In turn, a source in the law enforcement agency said that Amanov was detained on the complaint of Israfil Aliyev, head of the administration of the village of Sygdash, Masalli region.
Amanov allegedly blackmailed him by publishing compromising material about him. Amanov was allegedly caught red-handed while receiving 1,500 manats. A criminal case under Article 182.1 (extortion by threat) of the Criminal Code has been opened. The Interior Ministry has confirmed this information.
Arif Aliyev, co-founder and director of the Baku Press Club (BPC) and chairman of the “Yeni nasil journalists” association, questioned the credibility of the charges in his conversation with the Turan correspondent.
According to him, Amanov is held in the Masalli region police department, a lawyer was appointed to him at the expense of the state, and within 48 hours the court will consider a preventive measure in the form of arrest.
“We have known Zair Amanov for 30 years, as the head of one of Azerbaijan’s leading regional media outlets and an experienced journalist. Therefore, the accusation of extorting money and arresting him red-handed seems implausible. We have no doubt that the case has been fabricated and we will follow up on it,” Aliyev said.
He also pointed out that Amanov had recently complained about tensions with the head of Masalli region, Shahin Mammadov, who was displeased with criticism of negative phenomena in the region, bad governance and unsettled social problems.