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Azerbaijani Tax Officials Reinstate Claim Against Turan News Agency


Turan director Mehman Aliyev was arrested in late August and charged with tax evasion and abuse of powers.

BAKU -- Azerbaijan's embattled Turan news agency says the authorities have reinstated a tax claim against the independent news outlet.

Turan said in a statement on September 19 that the Department of Local Revenues in Baku had informed the agency that a claim that it owes 37,000 manats ($21,500) in unpaid taxes and penalties for 2014-16 had been reinstated.

No reason was given for the move. On September 12, the department had informed Turan that the tax claim had been dropped and its frozen assets had been unblocked.

Turan director Mehman Aliyev was arrested in late August and charged with tax evasion and abuse of powers. He was released from pretrial detention and placed under house arrest on September 12.

Turan was established in 1990 and has published online reports in Azerbaijani, English, and Russia. It also has cooperated with leading international news agencies about stories in Azerbaijan.

Rights and media group have accused Azerbaijan of using tax-evasion allegations to pressure Turan.

Giorgi Gogia, the South Caucasus director of Human Rights Watch, said earlier this month that the case against Turan's Aliyev was "the latest in a vicious crackdown on critical media in the country."

Azerbaijan is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders' 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

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