OSCE rep welcomes Azerbaijan’s decision to release Mehman Aliyev, Alexander Lapshin
Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 11
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir has welcomed the release of Director of Turan Information Agency Mehman Aliyev.
“I welcome this positive step on the part of the authorities and call on them to drop all charges against Mehman Aliyev,” he said in a statement posted on the OSCE website.
Desir noted that he values the dialogue with Azerbaijan on this situation.
Further, Desir tweeted that he welcomes the pardon and release of blogger Alexander Lapshin in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev today instructed the appropriate authorities to consider the request by Director of Turan News Agency Mehman Aliyev to replace his imprisonment with house arrest.
Ali Hasanov, the president’s aide for public and political affairs, said this decision is a clear manifestation of Ilham Aliyev’s unchangeable position and will to ensure freedom of speech and information, independence of the mass media and free activities of journalists.
Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Taxes has earlier said that based on the results of an inspection carried out in Turan Information Agency to identify tax risks and cases of tax evasion, it was established that Mehman Aliyev had been evading payment of taxes to the state budget.
A criminal case was initiated against Mehman Aliyev under articles 192.2.2 (illegal entrepreneurship), 213.1 (evasion of taxes or compulsory social insurance contributions) and 308.1 (abuse of power) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
Ilham Aliyev signed an order Sept. 11 to pardon Alexander Lapshin, according to which the blogger is to be released.
Alexander Lapshin is a citizen of several countries and had a criminal collusion with Armenians in the occupied Azerbaijani territories. He also illegally visited these territories. Lapshin was accused of violating Azerbaijani laws on state border in April 2011 and October 2012.
On Jan. 17, Alexei Stuk, deputy prosecutor general of Belarus, issued a ruling on Lapshin’s extradition to Azerbaijan. Lapshin was brought to Azerbaijan on Feb. 7. On July 20, Lapshin was sentenced to three years in prison by the Baku Grave Crimes Court.