Friday, December 26

Santa had a detour

Yea, looks like Azerbaijan wasn't on Santa's radar and thats why he was a day late. Or maybe Azerbaijani officials bribed sacred Santa too. Who knows... 

But surely, someone wished it very hard for the country's remaining independent outlet to go quiet. And it happened. 

This morning, Azadliq Radio (Radio Liberty Azerbaijan Service) had special guests. It wasn't Santa, nor was Santa's cute little helpers. It was the state prosecutor office staff. Armed with their own "witnesses" and guess what? They weren't dressed up either nor did they come bearing presents and season's greetings. 

So they came in, gathered Radio staff all in one room, cut the phone lines and internet connection and began the raid. They even broke into the Radio's safe. Yea! I guess they didn't get many presents so they decided to raid for their own.

Documents, equipment, memory cards, and the company seal were confiscated. 

Azadliq Radio was under attack for a while now. First its radio channels were blocked from broadcasting on local radio waves. Then its journalists were persecuted in various forms. 

On December 3rd, the country's chief of staff claimed the radio was spreading lies. Then two days later, the authorities arrested the radio's journalists and the host of the radio show Khadija Ismayil, and last but not least they have raided the office. 

Oh and to make things a tat bit more fun, on December 23rd, the Azerbaijan parliament happily adopted amendments to the country's media law giving the local courts carte blanche in shutting down media outlets the government does not like.

Happy New Year folks!

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