In an escalation of a targeted campaign against RFE/RL, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communications and High Technologies has filed an official complaint with a Baku court requesting that RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani website, azadliq.org, be banned.
The Sabail district court ruled on April 27 to convene on May 1 to begin a review of the ministry’s complaint, which also seeks to ban the websites of the nongovernmental Azadliq newspaper (unrelated to azadliq.org) and Meydan TV, and the Turan TV and Azerbaycan Saati TV channels.
RFE/RL President Thomas Kent called the ministry’s action an attempt at “blatant censorship that is intended to intimidate the independent press, and which shows nothing but contempt for basic rights and international conventions.”
The complaint is subsequent to recent legislation that tightens Internet restrictions and authorizes the Azerbaijani government, subject to judicial review, to ban sites for posting content deemed to promote violence, hatred, or extremism, violate privacy, or constitute slander.
According to Azerbaijani legislation, a guilty judgement by the court against azadliq.org could be used as grounds to prosecute the website’s correspondents.