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RFE/RL Closes Baku Bureau, Continues Azerbaijan Operation

Staff from RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service are held in their Baku offices on December 26 by state prosecutors who say they have a court order to close the bureau down.

WASHINGTON -- RFE/RL has closed its Baku bureau, after Azerbaijani authorities sealed the office shut in December 2014 in connection with a government-led campaign against foreign organizations.

RFE/RL Editor in Chief Nenad Pejic said on May 22 that Azerbaijani authorities had acted "illegally and arbitrarily, causing profound, and in several cases permanent suffering and dislocation for our staff and their families."

Pejic also indicated that the company is prepared to take all steps to defend its rights and interests, and those of its staff members, against the government's actions.

These actions include the raid on RFE/RL's Baku bureau together with the confiscation of company documents and equipment without due process; the detention of bureau staff without legal representation; the expulsion of the bureau's legal counsel from court proceedings; threats to staff members' relatives; and arbitrary bans restricting the travel of some employees.

But RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, known locally as Radio Azadliq, is continuing its newsgathering and reporting functions in Azerbaijan, and is operating on digital and satellite platforms, despite the closure of its bureau.

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    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.