Afgan Sadygov

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Video footage taken on November 27, 2018, shows several men in plainclothes force Azerbaijani journalist Afghan Sadygov into a car before driving away. His wife Sevinch Sadygova, who was with her husband at the time, told CPJ that Sadygov, the founder and chief editor of now-defunct independent news website Azel, had been arrested.

Sadygova told CPJ that her husband was charged with disobeying a lawful order by a police officer and said she believes her husband was targeted for his journalism.

A video of his arrest, published by the independent Berlin-based news website Meydan, shows several men holding Sadygov by the arms before forcing him into a car. His wife appears in the footage looking distressed, and says that the men approached the couple and said they had to talk to Sadygov, but did not explain why. Fighting back tears, Sadygova then says that the men told her they were taking the journalist to the police station.

Later that day, Sadygov appeared before a judge without his lawyer or family present, and was sentenced to 30 days’ administrative arrest, his wife said.

On November 30, the Baku court of appeals upheld the 30-day administrative arrest sentence, independent regional news site Kavkazsky Uzel reported.

Prior to his arrest, the journalist was reporting on a protest in front of the presidential administration building in Baku by families of soldiers killed in the 1990s’ Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to news reports. Sadygov planned to cover the protest for his Facebook and YouTube pages, according to news reports. The journalist reports primarily on social media platforms since his outlet was closed.

Sadygov has previously been detained for his work. In November 2016, authorities convicted Sadygov of aggravated assault in retaliation for his journalism and sentenced him to one year and six months in prison, according to CPJ research.  He was released on May 23, 2018, after serving a full sentence. On July 6, 2018, Sadygov was arrested again, tried without legal representation, and sentenced to 30 days’ administrative arrest on a new charges of disobeying a police officer’s orders, CPJ documented at the time.

He is being held at the Sabayil detention center in Baku.

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