Law 14:08 09/05/2015

Azerbaijani service RFE/RL broadcasting continues from Prague: Negotiations with Azerbaijani authorities bear no fruit

The final closure of the office of the Azerbaijani service RFE/RL will have no effect on its work. The programs of the Baku bureau will continue to be broadcasted from Prague. The recovery of the works of the radio station’s Baku bureau still remains in question, Caucasian Knot writes. 

The lawyer Adil Ismayilov, the legal representative of RFE/RL, says the investigation of the case of Baku bureau of RFE/RL is still on, however no criminal case has been filed.

“Charges have only been brought against the journalist Khadija Ismayilova, but there is no case against the radio itself,” Adil Ismayilov said.

According to the article, Fariz Namazli, Khadija Ismayilova’s lawyer, also confirmed that there is no criminal case against the Baku bureau.

“The investigation is carried out in the framework of a criminal case initiated last May against several local and international NGOs. Separate criminal cases against the human rights defenders Intigam Aliyev, Rasul Jafarov and others have already branched off that case. However, there are no criminal case and charges against RFE/RL itself,” Fariz Namazli said.

He added that the Prosecutor’s Office has appointed expertise of the financial activities of the Baku bureau, and a checking commission has been created with the participation of the representatives from the Tax and Finance Ministries, and from the Council for State Support to NGOs.

“There are no expertise results. Today there are only charges against Khadija Ismayilova, and they are absolutely groundless,” Namazli said.

According to Caucasian Knot, one of the radio station employees – who preferred not to reveal his name for the lack of authority to speak to the media on the behalf of the radio – said that the work of the Baku bureau of RFE/RL has been paralyzed after the office was searched and sealed. He said that 5 of the Baku Bureau reporters were seconded to the Czech Republic to strengthen the work of the Prague office of the radio. There could be no word about broadcasting from Baku which took 4-5 hours daily.

“Several others of our reporters have emigrated from Azerbaijan to escape the persecutions. Some have gone to work for other outlets losing the hope that it will be possible to recover RFE/RL’s work in Azerbaijan. There are only 5-6 people remaining to work in Baku. We work as freelancers. Me make reportages and send them to Prague to be uploaded on the website. Actually, we work half-legally without showing RFE/RL’s symbols on the recording equipment to avoid trouble,” the source said.

He added that the question of RFE/RL’s further status will be decided on the international level between Azerbaijan and the US.

“Some bilateral consultations seem to have taken place but apparently they bear no fruit as long as our office was taken away. The premises are not what matters. We can rent another office but the bank accounts of the radio have been frozen and there are more obstacles against the recovery of the work of the Baku bureau as a legal entity. That is, the status of the Baku bureau as RFE/RL representation needs to be adjusted anew through bilateral interstate negotiations,” the source said.

Caucasian Knot reminds that on February 25 RFE/RL declared that its reporters were under pressure in Azerbaijan. This statement was made after the border service of Azerbaijan did not allow Babek Bekir, the former head of Baku bureau RFE/RL, to leave the country as he tried to fly to Tbilisi for treatment on February 23, 2015. On the same day, the court fined the radio’s reporter Khadija Ismayilova finding her guilty of libel. The Prosecutor’s office of Azerbaijan interrogated the journalist Shakhveled Chobanoglu on February 24, 2015.

According to the information, since December 26, 2014 searches have been conducted in Baku bureau of RFE/RL and the reporters of the radio station have been interrogated in the Prosecutor’s office. The law enforcement authorities explained those actions by the investigation of a case regarding money laundering. The Azerbaijani service of RFE/RL in its turn declared that its work was completely transparent and that it timely paid the taxes and other social payments. RFE/RL Baku bureau’ office was handed over to the owner of the premises in connection with the termination of the lease term.

Related:

Azerbaijani bureau of RFE/RL finally closed for its professional work 

Search conducted in Baku office of Radio 

Khadija Ismayilova, journalist of Radio Liberty, arrested in Azerbaijan 



Source Panorama.am
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