The old city walls in downtown Baku. Azerbaijani authorities in the capital have detained the head of the Turan news agency. (AP/Sergey Ponomarev)

Azerbaijan detains head of Turan news agency

August 24, 2017 3:47 PM ET

New York, August 24, 2017--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Azerbaijani authorities today to immediately release Mehman Aliyev, head of the country's only independent news agency, Turan. Azerbaijan's Tax Ministry today ordered Aliyev to be detained as part of an investigation launched against Turan last week into allegations of tax evasion, according to media reports.

"Azerbaijan must stop this politically motivated persecution of Mehman Aliyev and the Turan news agency," said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. "Authorities have systematically jailed journalists and squeezed out independent media outlets by abusing the criminal code."

The lawyer representing Turan was quoted in reports as saying that Aliyev was summoned to give testimony as a witness in the case, but was then detained. He is due to appear before a court in the capital, Baku, within 48 hours, according to reports.

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