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Azeri blogger abducted by police for 2 hours, questioned about journalistic work

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 28 November 2014.

Reporters Without Borders condemns independent journalist Turkhan Karimov's abduction by two plainclothesmen from outside his Baku apartment at 11 a.m. today. After being released two hours later, he said he was taken to a police station in the Baku district of Nariman for a “discussion” with the local police chief.

Karimov's abduction by the very people who are supposed to ensure respect for public order is deeply shocking,” said Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.

“This act of intimidation is all the more disturbing because it is becoming a routine procedure by the police, who are using illegal methods to put pressure on government critics. We reiterate our deep concern about the safety of Azerbaijan's few remaining independent journalists.”

Contacted by journalists after Karimov was kidnapped, the Nariman police denied holding him, while the interior ministry press office said it had no information.

Karimov is a reporter for Radio Azadliq, which is Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Azerbaijani service. He is also an active blogger who provides satirical coverage of political developments on his Facebook page.

He said that he was questioned about his journalistic work for Radio Azadliq, the station's links with foreign countries, the well-known investigation journalist Khadija Ismailova, and related subjects. He was released after being advised not to criticize the government.

The authorities have been cracking down in an unprecedented manner in recent months on independent journalists, bloggers and netizens and NGOs that support the media, with arrests often taking the form of abductions.

No fewer than 13 journalists and bloggers are currently detained in connection with their reporting activities and are being denied their right to due process.

Ranked 160th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Azerbaijan is currently Europe's biggest prison for news and information providers.

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