Mehman Aliyev in Baku earlier this month

 

 

 

(Bloomberg) -- Azerbaijan’s Turan agency, the country’s only remaining independent news service, said it’s suspending
operations from Sept. 1 after its director was detained on tax evasion charges and its bank accounts frozen.

Mehman Aliyev was detained by police late Thursday after tax officials summoned him for questioning, defense lawyer Fuad Agayev said by phone. A court will decide within 48 hours whether to place Aliyev in custody on charges of tax evasion and abuse of office, allegations he says are politically motivated, according to the lawyer.

The detention of Aliyev, who isn’t related to Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, marks a “sudden escalation” in the state’s “persecution of the last independent media outlet still operating” in Azerbaijan, the Reporters Without Borders organization, known as RSF, said in a statement. Azeri
authorities raided Turan’s Baku offices on August 16, seizing financial documents and freezing its bank accounts.

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