The Commitee to Protect Journalists reports that Azerbaijan has deported a Swedish television crew which had arrived to film a documentary on human rights situation in the country.
“According to CPJ sources and local press reports, plainclothed men detained journalists My Rohwedder Street, Charlie Laprevote, and Charlotta Wijkström at a protest rally in the capital city Baku on Sunday. The men, who did not identify themselves, detained the crew members and took them to the Sabail District police department in Baku, then transferred them to the headquarters of Azerbaijan's Migration Service, the local press reported. The men also confiscated their digital cameras and erased all existing footage from their memory cards, international press reported.”
While the reason for deportation is not very clear, some officials suspect that there might be problems with the crew's visas. Radio Free Europe, however, quotes one of the crew members as saying that they did not hide anything while applying for Azerbaijani visa. They are also reporting that the European Enlargement Commissioner has expressed concern over the deportation and also the hostile environment for journalists in Azerbaijan.
“Meanwhile, a spokesperson for European Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füele expressed concern about recent developments in Azerbaijan, citing what he called “escalating pressures on journalists, youth, and political activists.”
It is important to note here that Azerbaijan is facing criticism for its attitude towards journalists, democracy and human rights activists. The Associated Press reports that number of activists were arrested for rallying for democracy, earlier this month.