Shamo Eminov and Aziz Orujov
Shamo Eminov (left) and Aziz Orujov are Azerbaijani journalists with Kanal 13 and have been charged with conspiring to bring money into the country illegally. On March 19, 2024, a court extended their detention by two months. (Screenshots: YouTube/Kanal 13)

Azerbaijan extends pretrial detention of 2 journalists on currency smuggling charges

Stockholm, March 19, 2024—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls for the release of Kanal 13 director Aziz Orujov and reporter Shamo Eminov, whose pretrial detention was extended on Tuesday, along with eight others being held on similar charges.

“As Azerbaijani courts have once again rubber-stamped the detention of yet more journalists on allegations of illegally receiving Western funding, it is increasingly clear that these court cases are merely a pretext for suppressing what remains of the country’s independent press,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Azerbaijani authorities should immediately release Kanal 13 journalists Aziz Orujov and Shamo Eminov, drop the charges against them and their colleagues at Abzas Media and Toplum TV, and allow independent media to work freely.”

Police arrested Orujov in November on charges of illegal construction. In December, police detained Eminov and charged both with conspiracy to smuggle currency, alleging the pair had illegally brought money from foreign donor organizations into the country.

The journalists deny the charges. If found guilty, they face up to eight years in prison, the journalists’ lawyer Bahruz Bayramov told CPJ.

Since November, authorities have also detained six members of the anti-corruption investigative outlet Abzas Media on charges of currency smuggling and charged four journalists with Toplum TV with currency smuggling, two of whom are being held in pretrial custody for four months.