Emin Huseynov is an Azerbaijani activist and editor-in-chief of Obyektiv TV, an independent online television channel based in Baku. In an interview he talked about his country's limitations on press freedoms.
How is freedom of the press faring in Azerbaijan?
Things have definitely deteriorated over the last year and we weren't expecting that ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest. Eight journalists were sent to prison on trumped up charges and others have had drugs planted on them or been accused of hooliganism and disturbing the peace. About 80 political prisoners are in jail and people are basically afraid. Occasional protests have been brutally crushed. The media aren't doing anything to shake things up and they’re censoring themselves. Although we have public broadcasters they're not doing their job and are simply mouthpieces of the government.
You've set up your own online television channel. Is it true that you're often subject to false accusations?
Yes. We're often told that we're spreading false information and we've been accused of being unpatriotic and working together with Western secret services and the Armenian lobby. We also got into a lot of trouble because of our comments on the Eurovision Song Contest. We had said that it was a music competition for all Europeans and that it included European values such as press and personal freedoms.
Has the government tried to physically intimidate you?
Yes. In 2008, for example, the police arrested me illegally and beat me up to the point that I was certified as being unable to work. Colleagues of mine were attacked on several occasions and one of our reporters was beaten up by 20 security guards working for an oil company. They broke two of his ribs and he almost lost an eye. Why? Because he'd produced a report about the planned demolition of several apartment blocks located on land supposedly owned by the company. Some of our reporters have also been under video surveillance. One of our journalists, for example, was researching corruption cases involving the governing family. She and her boyfriend were secretly filmed and when a blackmail attempt failed, the video ended up on the Net. We later found surveillance cameras hidden in her apartment.
Emin Huseynov spoke about the situation of the media in Azerbaijan at a panel discussion organized by DW Akademie and Germany's public broadcaster ARD on May 11, 2012.