BAKU (Reuters) - Independent Azeri news agency Turan said on Friday it would suspend its operations from Sept. 1 after its director was arrested on suspicion of tax evasion and illegal business activities.
The charges against director Mekhman Aliyev come amid a crackdown on dissent in the ex-Soviet country.
The case is “totally fabricated by political authorities,” said Aliyev’s lawyer, Faud Agayev, adding that he was preparing an appeal. An Azeri court arrested Aliyev on Friday and he will be detained for 2.5 months, Agayev said.
The West has criticized Azerbaijan for what it says is intimidation and repression aimed at the opposition and urged Baku to comply with its pledges on human rights. Azeri officials deny the accusations.
Aliyev, who was detained by Azeri police on Thursday, is suspected of appropriating 148,310 manat ($87,000), the taxation ministry said in a statement.
Reporting by Nailia Bagirova; Writing by Maria Tsvetkova and Jack Stubbs; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg