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Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (9 November) on the dropping of the charges against Mehman Aliyev, director of the Azerbaijani news agency Turan:
“I was very relieved to hear that the charges against Mehman Aliyev, director of the independent news agency Turan, have been dropped.
I welcome the decision by the Azerbaijani public prosecution office and encourage the Azerbaijani Government to abide by the commitments it has made as regards freedom of the press and freedom of expression. I will continue to follow the situation regarding freedom of the press in Azerbaijan closely.”
The investigation against Azerbaijani news agency Turan and its director Mehman Aliyev was launched in early August 2017. The main charges involved the alleged illegal acquisition of foreign funding between 2010 and 2014, as well as alleged tax evasion between 2010 and 2016. Aliyev was arrested on 25 August and accused of illegal business activities, tax evasion and abuse of office.He was conditionally released on 11 September. However, the investigation against him and the agency continued. On 2 November, the General Prosecutor’s Office informed Aliyev that the case against him had been closed in a ruling on 30 October.
The news agency was founded in 1990 and is regarded as the only largely independent media outlet in Azerbaijan.