Azerbaijani Editor, Lawyer Ordered Held In Pretrial Detention


The editor in chief of a leading independent Azerbaijani news organization and a lawyer have been ordered to serve four months of pretrial detention in a case involving allegations of bribery that both deny.

A court in Baku on September 11 issued the decision in the case of Avaz Zeynalli, the chief editor of Xural TV (Parliament) and Elchin Sadigov, a well-known human rights lawyer.

The court action comes after Zeynalli was accused in pro-government media of accepting bribes from a top Azerbaijani businessman who is himself facing criminal charges, including embezzlement, to stop printing critical reports on that case. Sadigov, the businessman’s lawyer, was alleged to have acted as the intermediary.

Both Sadigov and Zeynalli deny the charges and their lawyer said he will file an appeal.

The businessman, Rasim Mammadov, is the head of the Baku Steel Company. In February 2021, Mammadov was detained on charges, including embezzlement of some 55 million manat (more than $32 million).

Mammadov, who is represented by Sadigov, denies the charges.

It's not the first time Zeynalli has been accused of bribery-related charges.

In 2011, he was detained on allegations of extorting and accepting a bribe from former parliament deputy Gulyar Ahmadova.

Zeynalli pleaded not guilty at his trial in 2013, saying the case against him was connected with his work as a journalist.

He was sentenced to nine years in prison but was released a year later in 2014.