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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Azerbaijani government’s use of tax evasion allegations to harass the Baku-based Turan news agency, the last independent media outlet still operating within the country.

The aforementioned is noted in a statement which RSF has issued on Friday.

“Turan reported yesterday that the tax authorities accuse the news agency of under-declaring profits since 2014 and are demanding more than 37,000 manats (18,000 euros) in back taxes and other charges. They began a criminal investigation on 7 August and sent a tax inspector to Turan’s offices the next day to begin an audit.

“Turan denies the allegations and has referred the matter to a Baku economic administrative court, pointing to many irregularities in the investigation including the fact that the tax authorities omitted to mention a recent audit in response to similar allegations, one that exonerated Turan.

‘“It was just a matter of time before the authorities targeted the last independent media outlet still operating in Azerbaijan,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk. (…).

“The Azerbaijani authorities have gone all out to eliminate media pluralism in recent years. (…).

“Azerbaijan is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index,” the RSF statement also reads, in particular.

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