US State Dept ’deeply disturbed’ by Azerbaijan radio raid
BRUSSELSThe European Union has joined United States in expressing concerns over Azerbaijan’s raid on the local offices of a U.S.-funded radio station.
“The reported closure of Radio Free Europe again raises concerns over freedom of expression in Azerbaijan,” Daniel Holtgen, spokesperson of the Council of Europe secretary general, said in a statement released on Dec. 28.
“The Council of Europe will request the reason and legal justification for this action from the Azerbaijani authorities,” the statement read.
The offices of Radio Azadlıq in the capital Baku were sealed on Dec. 26 after prosecutors and armed police confiscated equipment and computers during a raid, the station’s director, Kenan Aliyev, told Agence France-Presse on Dec. 27.
The station provides Azerbaijani-language programing in the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty network directed at Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
The U.S. Department of State had said it was “deeply disturbed” by the raid.
“We call on the responsible authorities to respect Azerbaijan’s international commitment to protecting media freedom,” said a senior State Department official.
In recent months, Azerbaijani prosecutors have staged similar raids on other foreign-funded groups, including the Baku offices of the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, which was eventually shut down.