Journalists who investigate corruption in the government are arrested in Baku

Baku Police/Photo: Murad Orujov / Sputnik / Profimedia

A court in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, yesterday detained the head of an independent media outlet for two months on charges of smuggling, according to the Turan news agency, in another move against independent journalists in the former Soviet state.

According to Turan, Imran Aliyev, head of the Meclis.info network, which broadcasts news related mainly to the Azerbaijani parliament, has been detained in connection with the case against Abzas Media Group.

Another six employees of the Abzas group have been detained since the end of last year. Police announced last November that they had found 40.000 euros in cash at the group's offices in Baku.

Aliyev was tasered and beaten after being detained at Baku airport on Thursday, the Turan news agency reported.

International press freedom groups are demanding the release of Abzas Media workers, saying their arrest is an attempt by authorities to stifle anti-corruption reporting.

As part of the smuggling investigation, nine employees of an independent Azerbaijani television station were also arrested.

Azerbaijan's foreign ministry accused the European Union's ambassador of interfering in the country's judicial system in January after he said he was "shocked" by reports of the treatment of jailed journalists.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Azerbaijan 151 out of 180 countries in the Global Press Freedom Index.

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