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Azerbaijan summons French, German, US envoys over media funding

By AFP

November 28, 2023 06:26 PM


 

Azerbaijan on Tuesday summoned French, German and United States representatives to protest at their "illegal funding" of local media, accusing them of meddling in the tightly controlled country's internal affairs.

The foreign ministry said the embassies and linked organisations, such as USAID, had failed to register funding allocated for media outlet Abzas Media, in violation of the country's laws.

Authorities in the energy-rich Caspian nation last week arrested two Abzas Media journalists who investigate political corruption and charged them with "smuggling foreign currency".

A court in the capital, Baku, ordered editor-in-chief Sevinj Vagifgyzy and director Ulvi Hasanli to be placed in pre-trial detention for four and three months respectively, their lawyers said.

The ministry said "illegal" foreign funding of Azerbaijani media violated international law and Azerbaijani legislation.

It "strongly condemned the practice", which it claimed was "aimed at interfering in the country's internal affairs".

Abzas Media has reported that Hasanli was "subjected to inhumane treatment" in custody.

Amnesty International denounced the arrests. The rights group said they fit "into a pattern of critics being arrested by the authorities to stifle their dissent".

Signs of dissent usually meet with a tough government response in Azerbaijan, long ruled by the Aliyev dynasty.

The government of President Ilham Aliyev -- who has ruled the country since 2003, when he succeeded his father, Heydar -- has long faced international criticism over the country's poor democratic record.


AFP


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