Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reports that a court in Baku has rejected an appeal by the Azerbaijani Service of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty against the blockage of its website, azadliq.org, “backing a move that has been condemned by rights groups and Western governments.”
The Baku Cassation Court ruled on June 4 that the Communications and High Technologies Ministry’s decision to cut off access to the site was correct and therefore should not be changed.
Azadliq.org has been blocked in Azerbaijan since March 2017 at the instruction of the Prosecutor-General’s Office, which has claimed that the website posed a “threat” to the Caspian Sea country’s national security.
The decision to block the media outlets has been condemned by the European Union. The move was “not in keeping with the need for free, diverse, and independent media in modern and democratic societies,” Maja Kocijancic, the spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, said in a statement on May 14.
The U.S.-based democracy monitor Freedom House also criticized the court’s decision.
“By banning independent media websites, the Azerbaijani government has disproved President Ilham Aliyev’s most frequently used argument that Azerbaijan enjoys freedom on the Internet,” said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs at Freedom House, in a May 12 statement.