US, Sweden, OSCE, urge Baku to drop politically-motivated tax-evasion charges and raids against Turan

Top officials from the US and Sweden as well as the OSCE Media representative on Monday urged the Azerbaijani government to drop politically-motivated tax-evasion charges and raids against Turan, following the news agency's director Mehman Aliyev's release.

"We take note of the fact that [Mehman Aliyev] was released, but we regret that he is still under house arrest," said Annika Ben David, Sweden's ambassador for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, in her speech at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, TURAN's US correspondent reports.

"The situation of media freedom in Azerbaijan is deeply disturbing," she added in her statement at working session on freedom of expression, free media and information.

Ambassador David Killion, head of U.S. delegation, also mentioned that charges and raids against Turan, Azerbaijan's last independent media company, were politically-motivated.

"Journalists should never be targeted for their work," he added.

Killion also drew the attention to the fact that independent websites are blocked in Azerbaijan, such as the Azeri-language version of RFE/RL. Blogger Meyman Huseynov was arrested and abused in detention. Journalist Afgan Mukhtarli reportedly was abducted from Georgia to Azerbaijan.

Freedom of expression is fundamental to any democracy, he said.

In his turn, Harlem Désir, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, welcomed the release of Mehman Aliyev calling on the Azeri authorities to drop all charges against him."I value the dialogue on this situation in which we have engaged with Azerbaijan as an important way to resolve media freedom issues. It should continue."

Désir also reiterated his hope that the Turan would shortly be allowed to continue to work and contribute to media pluralism in the country.



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